Facebook is at it again. Rather than connecting users with just their friends, this time Facebook is aiming to connect users with the world. It’s introduction of “place tips” was tested in New York City at the end of January. Place tips is a timeline feature that utilizes users’ locations by providing information, pictures and menu items of stores/shops/landmarks nearby. The feature will also show any friend’s post or photo relevant to the location, connecting a shared interest between the two users.
Based on our security discussion yesterday, will this feature be a new threat? By sharing a photo with your location will that share your location with Facebook users you aren’t friends with? The feature says that this only works with people who have their location services on, but isn’t that the vast majority of us, even unknowingly?
The increase of technological advances, like this, have become an overall threat to our security, privacy, and ultimately safety. Although there are ways to opt out, it’s usually the more difficult way and therefore, unknown to many users. As previously stated, I fully believe that internet users are accountable for the actions they take and posts they share when signing up for a service, but behind every new update seems to be a whole new set of risks.
This feature and those similar to it do give you the option to “hide” its services, but does that really turn it off? Most likely not. Upon further investigation I found that Facebook says “users would only share their location if they choose to.” I applaud them for attempting to give users the opt out but there always seems to be a loophole. In several instances I’ve found that I cannot access certain parts of apps unless I consent to sharing my location and I assume this feature will be similar.
I’m not necessarily bashing the new Facebook feature, I’m simply offering precautionary advice. I think the idea is great – similar to Instagram’s geotag where users can search photos from the same location. New location based features like these are just allowing one more intrusion into our lives, no matter what the privacy terms may say.