Next time you download a mobile app, be warned: it could wreck your marriage or even help burglars rob your home, as one episode in New York City can reveal.
A man found out his wife was two-timing him after turning on his new iPhone 4S and his 'Find My Friends' app pinpointed her exact location, one which she never told her husband about.
Whether this spying via app story is a hoax or not, it raises the question of anyone can engage in smartphone espionage.
“The story raises big privacy issues. People either forget their apps are turned on, or they are just careless about using them," Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at the London-based security company Sophos, told Metro. "You might have just broken up and it’ll be easy for your ex to start stalking you.
“It is perfectly legal to install these apps if the owner of the mobile has agreed to be tracked down. Yet, chances are a third party -- like a jealous partner -- can do it for you,” Cluley added.
With GPS-based people-finding apps, it’s not only your heart that may suffer from oversharing of personal data. It may be your wallet, too.
A website named pleaserobme.com launched last year sets out to address the risks of oversharing after a rise in incidents of burglars using social media to target empty homes.
As Barry Borsboom, co-creator of the website puts it, “People started checking-in on social media wherever they were, and it was all public for everyone to see. So we just put messages into another context: If you are somewhere, it also means you are not at home.”
So, next time your social frenzy has you installing mobile apps that track your movements while you mosey through town, think twice. It may be used against you.
Apps that find you and tell the world
FourSquare: One of the most famous social, mobile, geolocation services, it lets you virtually check in to different locations, find out where your friends are and receive ads about what may interest you nearby. Available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Palm, and Nokia Ovi phones.
Find My Friends: Available only for Apple’s iOS 5 running on iPhone 4S, this free gizmo tracks down where people are at a given time through reading out a text location and by plotting buddies on a map.
Google Latitude: The Android answer to Find My Friends allows you to show your location and that of your friends, as well as other suggested friends you may want to share with, all in real time. There's a button to check in and it's deeply integrated into Google Maps.
Facebook Places: Allows you to let your friends know where you are simply by tapping the ‘Places’ button on your Facebook mobile app. It doesn't rely on a GPS device to find your location, so you can check-in from a laptop or an iPod.
Gowalla – Launched in 2009, it is not only another location-based social network services, but it works also as a social guide to a city's most beloved locales, allowing users to share and discover photos, experiences and recommendations on the go.