Uber Stops Tracking User Locations After Dropoffs (Aug 29, 2017)
Based on observations of the new method in the wild, Marketing Land says Facebook appears to be testing showing people ads on Facebook based on the physical retail stores they have recently visited, leveraging location data from the Facebook app. If people already think that being retargeted on Facebook based on shopping on other sites is creepy, this is going to blow their minds, especially because many people may not realize that Facebook is even able to track their location when they’re not actively using the app. That background location tracking is used to power some services in the app, and in the iOS privacy settings, Facebook can be set only to use location while in the app, but there doesn’t seem to be a similar option on Android, where all I can see is a single on-off location toggle per app at an OS level. None of this should surprise us, however: the name of the game in advertising is targeting, and the more available the better as far as these companies are concerned. As long as there’s some disclosure somewhere of what’s being gathered and why, and consumers have an opt-out option, they’ll feel they’re covered. But between Snapchat’s recent moves in the opposite direction and this testing by Facebook, it feels like we may be about to wade into our first real set of privacy concerns around major social networks in several years, after companies pulled back significantly a few years back following something of a backlash. Users have been like the proverbial frogs in boiling water since, with the erosion of privacy so subtle and incremental as to never present a single step big enough to warrant objections, but I suspect that may be about to change.
via Marketing Land
Google Maps will let you share your location with friends and family for a specific period of time – TechCrunch (Mar 22, 2017)
Location sharing is one of those really thorny privacy issues, and Google has gone back and forth on it over time precisely for this reason. In this case, it’s now opening the feature back up, though now in the Google Maps mobile app, and with some sensible limits, such as time- and person-based sharing. I can see a lot of utility in sharing my location with someone temporarily if we’re planning to meet up or if I’m on my way home and want to share an ETA. On the other hand, sharing that information with friends or family members means sharing it with Google too, and presumably also means your Google Maps app has to be running and tracking your location in the background, which has battery implications. For some people, those will be non-issues, but for others they make it less palatable to use these features. And of course the more openly you share your location (and the more companies track it) the more ways there are for hackers (and law enforcement) to access it too.
Foursquare is the rare example of a company whose late-stage pivot is actually working out. So many companies switch from one business model to another early in life – Twitter is a classic example – but very few start to struggle after several years of one business model only to find success with another. A few years back, a friend who was then senior at Foursquare told me that data and tools and not consumer check-ins were going to be the future of Foursquare, and in the years since the company has been executing on that vision. One of the most impressive parts of this is that Foursquare apparently has more checkins today than ever before, so the app is actually still doing well enough among a core set of users to provide a rich location database that can be used for these new developer tools. But it’s now monetizing pretty much exclusively through the developers and others that are tapping into its location data rather than through something on the consumer end.
Facebook kills off exact location sharing in Nearby Friends, adds “Wave” | TechCrunch (Dec 22, 2016)
In a world in which it seems threats to privacy get steadily stronger over time, this is an unusual retrenchment. Facebook will now share less detailed information in its Nearby Friends feature, though arguably to make the feature more appealing rather than out of any sense of altruism. It’s an interesting example of dialing back user data sharing to win user trust.