Location Check-Ins Are Meandering Toward Mainstream Consciousness


Every time social media inches closer to our “real” lives, people recoil (and then share everything). Remember when people first started tweeting their mundane daily activities — singing in the shower, burning scrambled eggs? So off-putting! And now? It’s been largely put to rest by an implicit Twitter manner code. Now, the latest technological back-step is taking place surrounding the release of location-sharing app Facebook Places.

The conversation has been going on for a while now with Foursquare — Will robbers know you’re out? Will unwanted company ambush you at your favorite bar? Who gives a damn where you ate dinner, let alone what you ate for dinner? But on Foursquare, the early adopters (all three million of them), have gotten into a rhythm of personal comfort with privacy settings and applications to determine whether someone’s location will be available to a selected list or funneled through Twitter for the universe to see.

Now that a location feature is on Facebook — along with my dad, uncles, and other not-at-all-early adopters — concerns about revealing too much have resurfaced. See the New York Times (“Technology Aside, Most People Still Decline to Be Located”) and Fast Company (“Facebook Places Leaks Around the World, World Still Wary of Location-Statuses”).

Even though location sharing is slowly seeping into mainstream consciousness, the Times says:

But for all the attention and money these apps and Web sites are getting, adoption has so far been largely confined to pockets of young, technically adept urbanites. Just 4 percent of Americans have tried location-based services, and 1 percent use them weekly, according to Forrester Research. Eighty percent of those who have tried them are men, and 70 percent are between 19 and 35.

So, the perils of over-sharing are actually staunching the spread of location-posting. To make sharing locations more appealing, sites like Shopkick offer coupons and incentives to check-in — attention Wal-Mart shoppers! Each location-sharing site has varying levels of privacy, protecting people who are worried that burglars are trolling around their Internet lives for an opportunity to strike (and they often are). But for a coupon? Ah, hell, what are the odds?

What if there was a site that armed your home security system every time you tweeted that you were away from home? Now that’s a million dollar start-up idea (you heard it here!).