A lot of applications are being developed by programmers for use with smart phones like iPhones. One of the most installed applications from the Apple store is the location-based apps called FourSquare.
Location based applications uses the GPS capabilities of the phone to give you your real time location. Like the FourSquare app, it allows you to check-in and your location will be published in social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. After checking in, you can see your friends and contacts who are in the same location as yours so this is a good application to help you socialize with friends.
Another great benefit of location based apps is you will be able to see the shops and restaurants that are near your location so you don’t have to bother a friend to get recommendations on where to shop, where to dine and more. If you have your iPhone with location-based apps installed, finding a nice restaurant, café, shops, etc is just a flick of a finger away.
Undeniably, this location based apps have a lot of benefits. But have you ever considered that is also poses a threat on one’s personal safety?
I was reading my friend’s status in Facebook and Twitter and I was surprised to read her status which specifies the unit number and complete address of her condominium when she checked in to Foursquare. This means that her address is for the world to see which poses a great security risk as bad guys will know that she is home and alone, and is the perfect timing that these predators are waiting.
Another situation is if you checked-in in FourSquare when you are on vacation, your contacts will see that you are not home which again will give the criminals the perfect opportunity to do bad things like burglary.
We share a lot of our personal information online and adding real time location to this information poses a great risk also for identity theft, scamming and a lot of other criminal activities. That is why it is important that we take a great deal of safety when offering our information online.
Here are a few tips on how to use location-based apps while protecting your personal safety:
- Only choose application that allows you to control who can see your information, the amount of information that you can share and how long these people can see this information. Like FourSquare, you have the option to hide your address from your FourSquare friends and prevent it also from being shared in Social Networking sites.
- Only install applications from trust worthy developers. It is fun to install different applications on our phone especially if it offers different functionality that will maximize the use of our phone. But before installing any applications, do some research first about the developers to see if they are trustworthy enough to give them your personal information.
- Before signing up to any of this service, always read the legal agreement first and see what information you will be sharing and what will these developers do with this information.
- Think first before you post any information online. Not all of the contacts you have in Facebook and other social networking sites are trustworthy. Some of them you only met online, or have been acquainted because you both join a group of the same interest. I will admit that there are really some contacts in my list that I can’t even remember how we are related. So think before you post a picture of you as you splurge and use your discount vouchers and coupons on a bag or shoes shopping spree. Think before you post that you are on vacation and will not be home for a couple of days. Once you post something online, it will be there forever and chances are, this information can be easily found with a simple Google search. So always think twice before posting information which will pose a great risk to your safety.
These applications are fun and we can’t deny that it has some great benefits too. But before using these apps, educate yourself first and learn how you can embrace this technology while protecting your personal safety also.