David Kirkpatrick

July 6, 2010

Social media, mobile devices and GPS

Filed under: et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:44 pm

A pretty nasty privacy combination.

Sure many people willingly broadcast their whereabouts at all times via all sorts of social media, but I’m betting most people really don’t want their location tracked at all times. This is where the privacy issue comes into play and why the linked story should give everyone more than a little pause — even those who are giving the milk away for free so to speak.

From the link:

A study out this week from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) shows that mobile social networks are giving data about users’ physical locations to tracking sites and other social networking services. Researchers reported that all 20 sites that were studied leaked some kind of private information to third-party tracking sites.

“This initial look at mobile online social networks raises some serious concerns, but there is more work to be done,” said Craig Wills, professor of computer science at WPI and co-author of the study. “The fact that third-party sites now seem to have the capacity to build a comprehensive and dynamic portrait of mobile online social network users argues for a comprehensive way to capture the entire gamut of privacy controls into a single, unified, simple, easy-to-understand framework, so that users can make informed choices about their online privacy and feel confident that they are sharing their personal, private information only with those they choose to share it with.”

Think this issue is something of a nonstarter? Chew on this for a little while:

he researchers found that all 20 sites leaked some kind of private information to third-party tracking sites. In many cases, the data given out contained the user’s unique social networking identifier, which could allow third-party sites to connect the records they keeps of users’ browsing behavior with the their profiles on the social networking sites, the study said.

Mobile social networks track users’ geographic location by tapping into the data on the mobile devices.

The study noted that only two social networks directly gave location information to the third-party tracking sites, but several use a third-party map service to show the user’s location on a map. The study also reported that six different sites transmit a unique identifier to the user’s mobile phone, enabling third-party sites to continue to track a user’s location even as the phone is used for other applications.

1 Comment »

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    Comment by viral Optins Bonus — April 25, 2013 @ 9:40 am


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