There are a lot of fun you can have with social apps like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There’s a lot of fun and useful things you can do with mobile apps that connects to these social apps too, but fun and games can turn horribly bad.
Today we are gonna talk about the dangers of automatic social sharing of mobile app results!
I have seen many friends, mostly women, who have used apps like Run Keeper to keep track of how far they have been running, which paths they have taken and how long it took. These results are then posted on Facebook for everyone to see. Here’s the problem with this, especially for women: This is public and can be viewed by everyone unless you have explicitly set up your Facebook account to hide it from people not on your friends list.
There are apps and other ways to gather information about people around you, several of these have been banned from every app store out there, but that doesn’t keep those who knows how to make them to use these for themselves. This means every time you run through that forest, someone else might be in the vicinity with a phone or computer that gets that information right away thanks to the Facebook sharing. This person now knows where you run, for how long and when you are running there.
There has been quite a few cases where predators, abusive significant others and other bad people have been able to reach their target thanks to this information, but you don’t have to have something as detailed as an exact map and time to do this.
There is a plethora of games and other apps that uses your phones GPS to tell others via social sharing where you are and when. For when, it’s as easy as looking at the time the message went on Facebook, but for where you have to have given access to the GPS for the social networks. This is used in Instagram to let others know where a picture has been taken.
Just as with the running apps, this has lead to several cases of bad things happening. In December of 2012, a 14-year-old girl posted pictures with nasty captions on a newly created, anonymous Instagram account. She had forgotten to turn off the GPS however, and was easily tracked down by over 500 students from 3 different schools, that marched through Gothenburg, Sweden, to find her in her school in one of the biggest riots involving kids under 15 in the history of Sweden.
The cases and the apps that can be used like this is too many to mention, and more are added each day, so how about this; I’ll list a few things you should keep in mind to keep you and people around you safe:
- Turn off Anyone in the sharing options on your social medias for apps
- Location could be fancy in many social medias, but don’t announce where you are all the time
- If you feel like sharing your location or if you have to for the app to work, try to delay the sharing to prevent people from mapping where you are
- Don’t trust captions, just because it sounds like a good cause, it doesn’t have to be true
- Check the permissions you give apps when you download them. Does the app you’re getting really need all those permissions?
All of this comes down to basic common sense, but in a world where information sharing is such an everyday thing, it is easy to forget that others are actually reading what you are doing, so please, be careful.