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Geolocation: Marketing Tool or Invasion of Privacy

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 4 (902 words)
Categories: Smartphones, Technology
Downloads: 3
Views: 3


Do you know about the new marketing tool called geolocation? Companies are using it to drum up new business. With its rise in popularity and the growing number of smartphones in the United States, privacy and the threat of criminal activity are on the minds of lawmakers. What devices are equipped with geolocation, digitally storing records of our movements? How have social networks increased then risks? Do the benefits of geolocation outweigh the risks?

How can users mitigate those risks? Is your smart phone out smarting you? The information your phone collects may come as a surprise to you.

It shocked me. A new technology is being used as a marketing tool and is called Geolocation. Your smartphone comes equipped with a GPS (Global Positioning System) chip. Notebooks, tablets and tom-toms do as well. Geolocation uses cell towers and satellite data to pinpoint your exact location. Services that support this technology, such as Foursquare, Loopt and Gowalla are being used by businesses to drum up new sales.

They are hoping you will use their apps to find out where your friends are and get recommendations from them for restaurants, bars, theatres and retail shops near you. The businesses are able to offer special promotions, giveaways and such to those that “check in” from their smart phones in hopes that they will post their location when they visit and give a positive review. These posts appear on sites such as Twitter and Facebook to their followers and friends allowing the social media to be used as a marketing tool.

Providers like Foursquare and Gowalla are rewarding the users of these apps with merit badges for checking in and silly titles such as “mayor” of a location are given to the one with the most check ins. In turn that establishment may offer the “mayor” a drink, a meal or ticket for free. This provides the element of competition and entertainment to the junkies of these apps. Yes, it may be a very inexpensive yet effective way of advertising for businesses. But the question remains, is it wise to let others know where you are and when you’re not home.

Apparently many people have not taken this question in to account. Some 28% of U. S. adults use location-based mobile apps from Facebook, Twitter and others. These apps, from Foursquare, Loopt, Britekite and Gowalla and such, have thousands of users that are willing to share their location and every move they make with the world. Although you can set certain levels of privacy on these apps, there are people with criminal intentions accessing them as well. How well do you know your Facebook friends and Twitter followers?

Better yet, how well do you know the followers and friends of the person who just tagged you with them at “check in”? The potential for robberies, stalking and kidnappings are certainly increased for those that participate in the geolocation apps. For instance, a college student may check in with several of her friends at a bar or nightclub. The post to Facebook and Twitter goes out to all of her friends and followers, and to the friends of followers of all the people she checked in with.

If one of them has experienced a stalker or been involved in an abusive relationship, their whereabouts can be leaked to the perpetrator of this crime. As the mother of teenaged children, I see it as a threat to their safety and have warned my children of the possibilities of danger when using such apps. In my opinion, the safest way to handle the threat is to avoid using these applications at all, and to forbid friends from tagging me with them on any check in they might on making. As the number of geolocation users grow, and the proliferation of mobile devices continues, the prospect of individual or enterprise information being available to hackers or other unauthorized users is a significant concern” said Mario Damiandes, a past ISACA international president1. ISACA (The Information Systems Audit and Control Association) has given recommendations to the public to protect people from these dangers in the form of an acronym ROUTE.

  • Read mobile app agreements to see what information you are sharing.
  • Only enable geolocation when the benefits outweigh the risks. Understand that others can track your current and past locations.
  • Think before posting tagged photos to social media sites.
  • Embrace the technology, and educate yourself and others. Regulation of geolocation is still in its infancy but lawmakers would like to restrict whether companies can store individual location data obtained from mobile devices.

They have proposed an amendment from the US Federal Trade Commission to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that addresses the collection of geolocation data from children under the age of 13.

Good news is what I say to that! The whereabouts of my children is of great concern to me. But should not be the business of anyone else.


  • Acohido, Byron, (09-27-2011) Why geolocation apps can be dangerous. USA Today, Retrieved from: http://content. usatoday. com/communities/technologylive/post/2011/09/whygeolocationa..
  • Ionescu, Daniel, (03-29-2010) Geolocation 101: How it works, the apps and your privacy. PC World. om, Retrieved from http://www. pcworld. com/article/192803/geolocation101howitworks
  • Johannesburg, Isaca, (10-6-2011) Privacy, security risks of geolocation technology. IT Web. com, Retreived from http://www. itweb. co. za/index. php? option=com_content&id=articleid=47907
  • What Is Geolocation and 3 Tools to use for Your Local Business. (9-20-2011) Linkymerwe. com, Retrieved from http://linkymerwe. com/whatisgeolocationand3toolstouseforyourlocalbusiness/

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Geolocation: Marketing Tool or Invasion of Privacy. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/geolocation-marketing-tool-or-invasion-of-privacy-essay

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