For the past decade or so, location sharing has been a hot topic of discussion. I remember when I first saw Snapchat maps, I was shocked at the ability to easily see my friend’s locations on the map. I freaked out when I realized my location was automatically turned on, and my first instinct was to go on private mode as soon as possible. Other people, on the other hand, could care less about whether or not their location is available. I recently stumbled across a Buzzfeed article titled “Apps That Tell You Your Friends’ Locations Are Now A Way Of Life”, which shares that many users aren’t super concerned about location tracking. One user interviewed in this article stated that she has “nothing to hide”, and therefore doesn’t care that the Be Real app shares a geotag of where she is located. Other subjects in the article shared that they find comfort in knowing where their friends are at all times, and that Find My Friends has improved their quality of life and friendships. They enjoy having a connection to people they know and are habituated to checking up on people via Find My Friends.
Not everyone feels this way, though. According to a poll conducted on mobile usage this year, 37% of iOS users are extremely concerned about online tracking. I personally know people who have deleted TikTok due to alleged privacy concerns and have friends who refuse to ever turn their locations on. It is interesting that there is such a strong divide between where people stand on this topic, and I believe the majority of it has to do with generational differences. The younger generation doesn’t seem as concerned with their information being tracked in quite the same way as baby boomers, for example. I find that my generation (millennials) falls somewhere in the middle. Personally, I feel uncomfortable knowing that my phone is tracking my location at all times, but also know that there’s not much I can do about it. When I get a pop-up on a certain app asking whether or not I want the app to track my location, I hesitate. Will it affect my experience on the app if they don’t know where I am? How much does it matter if I’m in PA or Hawaii?
Additionally, the Buzzfeed article discusses how location tracking can impact interpersonal relationships. For those who have an anxious attachment style, having the ability to see where their partner is at any given time can create insecurities. Checking someone’s location can be a compulsion, where some people feel like they need to track their significant other’s every move. I myself have witnessed a close friend get into arguments with her significant other regarding location sharing, because she felt threatened every time he would opt out of Find My Friends. Having the opportunity to repeatedly check someone’s location can increase dopamine levels because it’s so excitement-inducing. While the psychological effects are still being studied regarding this new phenomenon, our brains are certainly reacting to all of these changes to our personal privacy. I’d be curious to see how location sharing continues to evolve, and whether or not this Buzzfeed articles’ prediction is accurate.
- Apps That Tell You Your Friends’ Locations Are Now A Way Of Life
- App tracking and mobile privacy – Statistics & Facts
- Do People Trust Apps That Track Their Location?
- How do you feel about apps that use location tracking? Do you think it’s an invasion or privacy? Why/why not?
- Do you personally opt in or out of location sharing?
- Do you agree with Buzzfeed’s take that this has become a way of life?