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8/26/2014
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Location Tracking: 6 Social App Settings To Check

Popular social apps, including Facebook, Google, Foursquare, and Twitter, may track your every move. Get the lowdown -- and instructions for turning off these options.

3D Mapping Data's Future: 8 Examples
3D Mapping Data's Future: 8 Examples
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Late last year, the Federal Trade Commission fined one of Android's most popular apps, called Brightest Flashlight Free, after an investigation found that the app tracked and sold users' precise location information without their consent.

While the app's privacy policy disclosed that it collected this sort of data, it didn't warn users that it routinely shared this information with third parties. Goldenshores Technologies, the maker of the app, was later forced to delete all the information it had collected.

Passive location tracking, in which applications track where you are even when you're not using the app, has grown in popularity. Users often agree to these location services when downloading the app or speeding through permission pop-ups.

[Facebook's latest privacy changes include welcome improvements. Read Facebook Privacy: 10 Settings To Check.]

Facebook, for example, uses this technology in an opt-in feature called Nearby Friends, which pinpoints your location on a map so your friends can see where you are. Foursquare uses passive location tracking to push deals and recommendations to your device when you're near a restaurant that matches your interests, and Google tracks your daily movements on a map "to improve search results."

But in the era of NSA and government data requests, not everyone is comfortable with companies tracking their every move. In a report on location-based services published last year, Pew Research found that while there was notable growth in the number of social media users who set their accounts to include location in their posts, 35% of adult users said they have turned off location-tracking features on their phones because they were worried about other people or companies accessing this information.

But opting out of these settings isn't always easy. Here's a look into how Google, Facebook, Messenger, Foursquare, Swarm, and Twitter track your location, plus instructions for disabling the location-tracking features.

Google
Google, like many other apps and websites, knows a lot about you: your demographics, interests, and online browsing habits, for example. But one thing you may not realize Google tracks is every place you and your phone travel to, with surprising (and creepy) accuracy.

Take a look at Google's location-tracking site and log in with your account credentials. Some users may see a blank map, but others will see detailed routes outlined in red depicting exactly where you have been. You can use the calendar on the left to sort your movements by a specific day or hover over a point on the map to see what time you were there.

Google says it tracks this information to "use it to improve your search results based on the places you've been." If you're not comfortable with Google knowing your every move, you can turn it off and delete your history.

Visit your Account History page to turn this setting off. After you log in, select the "Places you've been" option, then click Pause to turn it off. To delete your entire location history, visit your Location History page and select "Delete all history." You can also delete your history for certain days by 

Kristin Burnham currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and CIO.com, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

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nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
9/11/2014 | 9:26:59 AM
Re: Facebook the invader
@Kristin I am of the opinion that we need to take this matter very seriously (privacy theft) and there needs to be some strict measures against the defaulters. I also believe that the bigger firms consider themselves immune of any punishment they might face as there stake holders come for their rescue. The information theft should be considered as crime and dealt accordingly.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
9/10/2014 | 2:31:27 PM
Re: Facebook the invader
 I belive that most of us give permission to these sites ourselves without our knowledge before joining.

@nomii, you're probably right, and hopefully people have learned a lesson from that. People can't complain about the information and data Facebook collects if they're not willing to understand it before they press "allow" or "ok."
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Moderator
8/31/2014 | 10:26:05 PM
Re: Facebook the invader
@Henrisha,

I would imagine that they don't abuse the information. But having it all at your disposal is a scary thing. It's like they know what you're thinking/doing most of the time without even knowing you.
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 11:21:42 AM
Re: 1 Don't download junk apps. 2. Don't worry if you have nothing to hide
@vnewman2> Insane.

 

I have been asked to create reports in the past saying how many tickets each person on a team has closed in a given week - and I am always a little uncomfortable about doing do, because such reports are meaningless on their own. Some "tickets" represent 6 months of work (a project) so aren't going to be closed regularly. Others are one-line of code to resolve. The rest lie somewhere in between, so how do you compare somebody who closed 20 tickets to somebody who closed just 3 in the same time period? Is one of them lazy? Was one of them on vacation for 3 days that week (another piece of information not revealed by that statistic). My concern is not with the numbers themselves but with how somebody else might interpret them and the inferences and conclusions they might draw because of the lack of context that goes with them.

Sadly it sounds like you're hitting the exact same problem - flawed analysis and conclusions from incomplete data. Somebody, somewhere. should be ashamed.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 3:04:22 AM
Re: 1 Don't download junk apps. 2. Don't worry if you have nothing to hide
@jgherbert - it's crazy isn't it? Definitely a disheartening experience. The messed up thing is that some floors you need to swipe and others you don't including the ground floor. So in that sense they are only getting pieces of a puzzle yet trying to create a whole picture at the same time.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 2:55:28 AM
Re: 1 Don't download junk apps. 2. Don't worry if you have nothing to hide
@nomii. Wow. Just wow! I had no idea where this was going to go when I read the beginning of your story but holy cow what an ordeal for you to go through all because of a key card. I'm totally blown away but can see how easily it got out of hand based on my own recent experience.
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 12:10:05 AM
Re: 1 Don't download junk apps. 2. Don't worry if you have nothing to hide
@vnewman2> Wow. Your employers seem, uh, a little overactive on their log tracking and user analysis. So if you swipe into the elevator on the way up to the office but take the other elevator down on the way home, will you be accused of not leaving the office, working too many hours, and be forced to accept overtime? That kind of scrutiny is why people fear data collection. The usual argument of "if you have nothing to hide, why care?" gets blown away by your example.
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
8/30/2014 | 11:59:33 PM
Re: How much of this is dependent on GPS?
@nomii> "you can be tracked through your mobiles even you are not making calls, or puting you GPS on, you can also be tracked with your sims after they are put in the phones before they are actually used"

 

If you turn the phone on with a SIM in it and it tries to connect to a cell tower, it's logged. Thus yes, you can be tracked (up to a point) with triangulation techniques.
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
8/30/2014 | 11:57:59 PM
Re: Facebook the invader
@Henrisha> "An article about Facebook's Messenger app recently went viral."

 

It did. But it was wildly playing the FUD card, and in my opinion misrepresented what was going on. Of course that won't stop it being shared...
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
8/30/2014 | 10:27:54 PM
Dumb as a box of rocks
LOL the NSA doesn't have to surreptitiously sniff digital communications - all it has to do is use an internet connection to check up on ignorant/attention whoring Americans eager to give away every detail about themselves up to and including their every move once they set foot beyond their own front doors.
Page 1 / 4   >   >>
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