Stalking or Finding?

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I remember vividly how upset I was when my dog ran away when I was five.  Living in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, we scouted the acres of wood for her tiny, white thirteen pound body.  Luckily, she was found, and the Veterinarian recommended we insert a GPS tracking device in her so that if lost again, she could easily be found.  This idea disturbed me to think about as I got older and thanks to the revolutionizing technology and social media, it is basically in humans now; just not embedded in their skin but embedded in their phones.  screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-11-11-29-pm

I often wonder from time to time, when is technology going to be enough, when is it going to take things too far.  Apple iPhone’s released a few years ago in their Smartphone App store, Find My Friends.  This is an equivalent I feel to the creepy little chip implanted in little puppies.  screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-11-11-43-pm

“Find My Friends”, is an application where with access approval, you can view where your friends are on the go.  It is known to of caused marital problems, as it can spill someones secret, but it can be extremely helpful when someone may be lost in a new area or for moms to watch out for their kids and vice versa.  There is a temporary sharing mode where you can limit the app’s tracking activity to just specific times as well.  Clearly this app has numerous pros and cons, but the real question is does it overstep any privacy boundaries?

Pros

  • An easy way to locate friends and family (After they accept the request of course)
  • Privacy controls
  • Location-based alerts
  • Safety – if your friends have not heard from you and are concerned about your well-being they can find you

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Cons

  • Small possible download fee
  • Possibly getting requests from people you do not want to find you
  • Possible reveal of your whereabouts to people you are hiding them from

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I know that there are positives and negatives, but when it comes to safety the positives definitely outweigh the latter.  My college roommate is a big proponent of this app and she has made us all download it and follow each other so that when we go out we can always make sure the others are safe.  She also said how everyone in her family follows each other to see where one another is.  For her family this is key, as her parents live in New Jersey and they can make sure at the end of the night her in Boston and her brother in London are home safe.  Clearly his is revolutionizing social media and the world as we know it, ut will apps like this get us all in trouble eventually?  Also, how accurate are the GPS detectors?  Can they show we are somewhere we are not?

9 comments

  1. This was an interesting post- I particularly liked your personal connection with your dog to make sure you are able to track where she is at all times! When it comes to people- I am not sure the notion of tracking your location at all times is necessarily the best. While it may be good for a parent who is worried about their young child walking home from school or a friend when they are coming home from a bar or a night on the town etc, it may come into question when you start to think about who else may have access to that same data. Once this information is public, companies and brands will also be able to track your every location- if they don’t already have this ability- leading to advertisements etc on a continued basis. This concept has started already, however. I was reading an article a few weeks ago about how companies are able to target specific ads to specific households based on your behavior- pretty creepy if you really think about it! Overall, great post.

  2. finkbecca · ·

    I really liked this post. I’ve heard of the Find My Friends app and apps that also can track your friends locations. I just don’t get it. I think it’s really cool for parents to have if their kids have phones, but otherwise it’s too Big Brother for me. I don’t want to always be sharing my location with anyone and I don’t want to always have access to anyone elses’ location. It’s very creepy and I just don’t understand the appeal. It also feels very untrusting to share the app with your partner, it feels like you’re saying that you need to spy on one another because you don’t trust each other. I can see the benefits (safety, etc.), but I don’t think they outweigh the creepy vibe for me.

  3. Aditya Murali · ·

    The ethical implications of Find My Friends and Find My iPhone can definitely be discussed for a while. I sometimes feel that it is an invasion of privacy and that I can’t do something privately without giving someone an explanation. On the other hand, however, the safety concerns that this app addresses are too great to ignore. It is great for worried parents/friends/family who want to make sure their child or loved one is safe, and it certainly gives people peace of mind. For those reasons, I definitely am pro-Find My Friends.

  4. Nice post. When my children were little, i really wanted to put a tracking chip in them so I could find them if anything happened. I worry a little less now, but I use these features all the time (and when my daughter gets a cell phone, it will be for this very reason).

  5. Location tracking is both scary and awesome at the same time.

    I do not use Find My Friends, but have located a lost iPhone using location in the past (back of a taxi) and just recently purchased some Tiles (https://www.thetileapp.com/). Its a pretty neat devices to help turn some of your “dumber” its, smart.

    My plan is to geo-enable some of my everyday items, like my suite case. The next time United cannot find my luggage I will be able to tell them exactly where it is, and we’ll see whether that helps our not :o)

  6. daniellep2153 · ·

    Great Post. Find My Friends actually reminds me of Find My iPhone. Although it wasn’t created to keep track of others, it is very helpful when you can’t find your phone. The only problem is it must be downloaded and active in order to use it. After a night out, a friend of mine realized she left her phone in the uber. She didn’t have Find My iPhone so we used this app. It was really useful because we were able to identify where the driver was after we had left the phone in the car. The next day we located her phone and then called it to let the driver know we were picking it up. Even though there are some potentially creepy aspects to it, being able to find a friends phone is another benefit.

  7. adamsmea89 · ·

    I think you bring up a good point about how this information could possibly be used against you at some point. I have Find My Friends and I personally forgot that I had it turned on, so all of my friends could see my location and I was not aware. Of course, it didn’t matter because they were my friends, but it does make you wonder about putting too much info out there for people to see. I have also heard stories of people turning on their partners location without their knowledge, which feels like a major privacy intrusion even if you are in a relationship with that person. I think these apps are best used for children, and for friends when you are going out at night.

  8. Great post! I think this post really emphasizes the importance of user privacy moving into the future, on top of just tracking where someone is. Sometimes, the technology company does not have choice and is strong armed into giving the government information about a user (Apple w/ a runaway criminal). I think many of these are terrifying since you don’t agree or disagree to it like this application. One important thing to note is that during this debate, many of us actually enable the tracking device on ourselves with “find your phone” feature. Although this is just us allowing ourselves to find a lost phone, this is a gateway to someone else finding our phone if they know our username and password.

  9. I really like that your post follows the positives and negatives of this technology. As you’ve said, there is great use to this technology, and it really can be a great safety tool. I imagine if I was a parent, a tool like this would really put me at ease. One of closest friends was a suffered a traumatic incident as a young teen, an incident that could have been avoided with a tool like this one.

    Having said that, I will not be inclined to download the app, or if I do I would be unlikely to alert people to my location with any great frequency. I value my privacy a great deal. I don’t reveal much about myself on social media, and I don’t feel comfortable giving my location on a real time basis.

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