These Social Tracking Apps Are Getting Weird

These Social Tracking Apps Are Getting Weird

Mike Tyson
Oct 24, 2011

Apps like Foursquare or Facebook's Check-In feature have been around for a little while now. People are accustomed to having the option of notifying their friends where they are and what they're doing. But recently, new apps have been taking this system to a whole new level which appears to have some serious implications of privacy or general all around creepiness.

To begin, Apple has introduced their new service Find My Friends which allows you to track your friend's location and vice versa. Apple suggests this service could be useful on a camping trip or at an amusement park with your family. The good thing about this is that you can easily switch it on and off so your friends can only track you when you want... or until you remember to turn it off. Parents may also find a benefit in this by being able to track their child at all times.

Not to be outdone, Foursquare also introduced their version of Find My Friends called Radar. It works in the background so you don't even need to have the app open for it to notify you with suggestions of places to go or where your friends might be hanging out. That's right. Foursquare has no qualms about rubbing it in your face that a group of your friends are hanging out mere blocks from where you are. In effect, the only way to avoid this tracking is to turn Radar off completely. Otherwise, people will see you and you will be seen, at all times.

So what are the implications of these novel new tracking features? Well, it has already become quite clear in a recent new story which would make for a hilarious new Apple iPhone ad. A man activated Find My Friends on his wife's iPhone who he suspected would be cheating. And sure enough, he caught her in the act. The digital world is really challenging some of our moral and ethical position on personal privacy and it's becoming harder to keep it if you wish to remain "connected." We don't know why anyone would use these 24/7 monitoring features. Some people need their privacy.. whether they realize it or not. If you are out and about and in the mood for coffee.. just text your friends or check-in to a shop and see if anyone feels like coming along. This strange hybrid of quasi-spying on people's locations just feels too creepy for our comfort and we can only hope none of our friends expect us to use these features.

How about you? Can you really see the benefits of these services outweighing their invasiveness? Is there a point when you could actually find it useful to use? Try and change our minds because we feel pretty adamant about wanting to eschew this fad in its entirety.

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