Location Based Services
March 30, 2022Author: Eric Burdick
What are Location Based Services?
Location based service technology has existed for many years now, and goes as far back as the 1980s. Nowadays, this is used for a variety of purposes - the most common one being phones. A GPS can predict the estimated time to reach a desired location. Using your location to locate nearby stores or ordering items online directly to your location rely on location based services.
How does it work?
Most devices such as smartphones come with a built-in GPS that keeps track of your exact location when it is enabled. The GPS will constantly send out a notification to a satellite to update your phone with your exact location. Locations can also be obtained based on WiFi networks or cellular data/towers.
Social Media Concerns
While location based services can be very helpful when navigating the internet or in daily use such as driving, it does come with its concerns. Most social media platforms nowadays involve some elements of location based services or location features. This includes Snapchat and the app’s Snap Maps feature. The feature taps into the device’s location based services to broadcast the user’s current location when they are active on the app. Your location will only be visible to anyone that is on your friends list. While this feature can seem harmless, it can create scenarios of stalking or tracking that can put a user at risk. Other apps such as Instagram and Twitter also have options of telling others your location within your bio or on a recent post.
Cyberstalking is a process where a person will target an individual or group on the internet for a multitude of reasons. The stalker will search the internet for social media accounts, email addresses, and other public information. Stalkers can also attempt to get close to the victim by joining groups or chat rooms. If a stalker is able to get ahold of an account that can be tracked, such as Snapchat, the stalker now has access to the victim’s location. These are users who will harass, threaten, or just stalk a victim. With access to a victims location, this adds information the stalker can use to manipulate or scare a victim. It's important to keep an eye on who you add/follow to user accounts in the case a stalker may obtain very personal information.
How to Control Location Based Services on Devices
It's best to keep track of what applications know of your location to prevent any chances of stalking or giving strangers your exact position. To start, most devices nowadays will prompt the user to see if it is allowed to use such services. For example, Apple can allow users to let Location Based Services run while using the app only, always, or not at all. These settings can be changed within the phone's settings itself. When it comes to browsers, browsers such as Chrome will also prompt the user to allow the use of location when visiting a website. If the website you are visiting appears to not really need your location to run, then choose to block it.
Location Based services are so commonly used nowadays that it is easy to accept pop ups to share locations with friends or go online shopping. However, it's important to realize that sharing your location can lead to cases of cyberstalking. Ensure that all settings are under control within your phone and internet browsers.