Wish you were here

GPS based applications for smartphones are nothing new. These days things have come a long way since Foursquare, what with Facebook Places and now Google Latitude both on the map. But are they really a good idea?
Put simply, a concept that began as an idea to offer discounts and rewards for ‘checking in’ (and promoting) somewhere, has grown into a service that looks to bring friends together, even in unlikely places. By sharing locations you can find out who you know close by, and meet up. But there’s always an issue, and when you’re making people’s compass point public, the problems are tenfold.
Privacy concerns and Facebook go together like scandal and the tabloids. Though it’s not so much of a happy marriage, the pair have been impossible to separate since the public realised users could abuse the information stored on the social network. And as for Google, daddies of the internet, multiple controversies surrounding the Earth programme, not to mention the public’s concerns over content control, put the brand in a similar light.
What this shows is that both organisations have previously acted before fully considering the consequences. It’s not that they set out to betray confidences, but in the end that’s what the victims must surely feel like. And now it’s not just phone numbers, or faces being captured and included in online maps. This time it’s the exact location someone is in, their regular movements and favourite haunts. In short, you could potentially map out a person’s habitual behaviour.
It’s a scary thought to say the least. Still though, we’ve made it this far in an age of information overload and data security scares. And, obviously, we’re pretty partial to a tweet or two, meaning any developments on the social media side of things are fascinating to us (and we’re usually first in line). So our jury’s out on this one, but we’d love to know where yours is right now.