Chances are most of you use location-based applications on your smartphone. In fact, most applications now-a-days have the option to include geotagging as a feature, but is it always a good idea? I’m not so sure.

When it comes to the internet, I am a pretty paranoid person (I’ve mentioned this before), and like to keep things as private as possible. This includes the use of location-based apps. I don’t check in on foursquare, I don’t add my location to my tweets and I definitely don’t check in at home. The reason being is that I don’t want anyone and everyone to know where I am at all times. I work in Royal Oak and live in metro Detroit, so unless I’m going to be somewhere that in my eyes warrants sharing, you won’t know my location.

A 2010 NPR article talks about the risk of over-sharing your location. In the article, Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said, “There are physical and economic safety risks when you’re publicizing to the world where you are. It’s obviously a treasure trove of information for criminals.”

While this article is two years old, I still believe it has valid points. And the reason I bring this topic back to light is that I follow someone on Twitter who checks in everywhere he goes. That’s his prerogative, but this person commits the biggest sin of check-in services: Checking in at home.  Even when I was an avid foursquare user, I never once checked in at home.

I believe that there are a few simple steps that can help make foursquare and other services like it a whole lot safer:

  1. First, take foursquare’s advice and “be careful about with whom and when” you share your location. This mean setting your privacy settings to a level with which you are comfortable.
  2. If you check in at home, make your residence a place that is “Off the grid” so that its location is not published publicly.
  3. Don’t use foursquare to tell your friends on Facebook and Twitter where you are every moment of every day. I’m not saying don’t check in, I’m just saying don’t publish it to your social profiles unless it’s a place worth sharing. I know this sounds blunt, but if you’re at a local drug store or gas station, none of us care. If you’re at a museum, great restaurant, etc., then that’s another story! It’s how you use it, not when you use it.

Now, if you think I’m being paranoid and over-dramatic, please drop me a line in the comments. Just don’t tell me where you are.

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