Location-based social networks: Do we understand them? And whose fault is it if we don’t?

April 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
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In an interesting post on ReadWriteWeb.com (Location-Based Social Networks: Delightful, Dangerous or Somewhere in Between?), some questions are posed about location-based social networks. To me it seems perfectly obvious that if I’m out meeting someone somewhere in town, or at the beach, I should be able to ping him with a location request, at which point he should be able to ping me back. At that point, my phone should just lead me to my friend, even if he is moving. (I know that echoecho for the iPhone does something like that, but last time I checked the maps for Israel were just blank…)

There are clearly privacy issues here, but they should be dealt with by the right kind of opt-in agreements.

However, what about the issues that arise because people don’t know what they are doing? Towards the end of the blog I linked to above, the questions is asked whether the average computer/mobile phone user is

capable of using mobile social networks properly in ways that won’t put them at risk? Or will they add friends willy-nilly, broadcast their every move then be stunned when something bad happens?

So my question is: whose responsibility is this? What are we meant to do with technologies that can seriously impact on our privacy, but mostly because we don’t use them properly? Or because we didn’t read the instructions? Should people be protected from their ignorance? Or should we call it laziness? I haven’t made up my mind on this yet.