I spoke with an employee once and who said he refuses to pay for apps. I told him he is paying with another currency: information. Many of the apps we use track our location – down to the foot. Google Maps and Waze use this information to help us navigate traffic patterns and get where we need to go. Other apps track your location for marketing purposes. what can they do with this information?
When an app or website knows exactly where you are, they can sell it to advertisers and retailers. They also know how long you stayed in Victoria’s Secret, Wal-Mart or the local grocery store. They use these data to decide what to sell you and advertise. Spend 2 minutes in the condom section of Target and ads for Lifestyle and Trojan begin to show up in your Google searches and Facebook page. Can the average consumer do anything to combat this?
- Location Services – Go to Settings on your iOS device (e.g. – iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch). Search for Privacy. At the top you will see Location Services. Tap to open. Here you will find a list your apps tracking your location. These apps give you four choices for tracking: Never, Ask Next Time, While Using the App or Always. Choose wisely! I reserve Always for the weather (Dark Sky, Apple Weather, Yahoo! Weather) and driving apps (Google Maps, Waze, MileIQ).
- Lost and Found – Find My iPhone is turned on. This feature allows me to find it if I lost it. I also send a sound to it when it is lost in the couch cushions. My daughters use this feature when they lose their phones, tablets also.
- History – Websites like Facebook and Google keep a history of your location. Google Maps shows exactly where I’ve been. Who owns these data? Some services make it easier than others to view and delete this information. Snapchat allows users to view the data developers collect, but they cannot delete it. UGH! Go to Facebook and Google to turn off the tracking feature. Subsequently, delete the history and keep moving forward.
- Safety – All of my daughters have Share My Location turned on with their devices. When my oldest daughter (Sophomore at Purdue University) goes to a party, I don’t track where she is. I don’t watch as she walks across campus. However, if something happens to her, and we don’t know where she is, I need to find her last location. The police need to use every means possible to track where she is. My girls are independent young ladies, but as their parent, I need to keep them safe, and the track your location feature helps with that.
Apple describes the Track My Location feature (launched in iOS 8) on their Support page. Some people state they don’t care if businesses and brands know their location. Your location is valuable, and the person who owns the data controls the data. They can grant opportunities (e.g. – lower interest rates) to some consumers and offer those opportunities to others. Own your own data!
Scientifically Speaking, of course…