You really still don't know what all the fuss is about for data privacy, Facebook and all that? READ THIS!

03 Apr 2012
Posted by adrianb

Here courtesy of Cult of Mac is a news story about a super creepy mobile phone app called Girls Around Me. The story should be a wake-up call for all who spend their waking lives on their Facebook or Twitter accounts, and despite my title, not only the females among them.

Two factors have come together to permit a worrying and now very public use of a combination of personal information.

The first is the growth in the use of highly capable and publicly networked gadgets - like the iPhone.
The second is the ubiquitous, continuous and unthinking sharing of personal information by Facebook users and other networked socialising

Together these factors have created a tipping point, where they are now both so widespread that it is feasible for inventive developers to create an app that will show the location of nearby girls (or boys or both) on a map. And there are plenty of people who want it - how about 70,000 downloads? However, don't bother trying to download as the outcry made the developers suspend downloads, and access to a key API was also withdrawn by geo-social outfit FourSquare, so the app no longer works for existing users.

This has been a long time coming. The sex industry was the first to really see the opportunities offered by the web, video on demand, and accelerated development of consumer on-line payment technologies to sell their content.
In the same way, it is now the first to really show off the dangers and opportunities that accompany poor data privacy in a mobile world, in this case by providing a way of showing smart phone users nearby girls(or boys), on a map, just one click away in the sweaty palm of the hand. Two clicks and your Facebook profile is revealed . They know who you are, what you look like,where you are from, your friends, likes, dislikes, everything you have unwittingly revealed on Facebook. Three clicks and they are messaging you - listen out for the message alert beep and bingo, you are revealed.
Talk about stranger danger.

As the article says, you can bet that most of the girls in question had no idea they were publishing all of this to any creepy guy (or girl) on the street with a smart phone.

It's not all bad news though. Mixing and matching of location and profile information is very useful for many and more legitimate purposes.

For those in the UK, think about the recent fuel supply problems.
Imagine just how useful it could be to know, as you are driving and on fumes, where the nearest petrol station with stocks of the right fuel for your car / van or lorry is, and to be directed there via your smart phone / sat nav.

Or when coming home on the train late at night, if your station has any cabs available - and if not, if any of the nearby stations do.

Retailers, think about tracking and targeting those passing high spending customers who are on the look out for, say, a special red party dress, and want to be contacted with a deal, right now.

So for everyone who doesn't yet spend their waking time connected, online, wherever they are - maybe today is the day you should start. Just make sure you know what you are revealing and who gets to see it.

PS despite all I've said, I wouldn't be surprised if GAM or something similar, but this time produced by one the main stream dating services, becomes a roaring success.