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How much information is too much?

When I sign up for social media sites, I am always hesitant to provide any personal information especially about where I am or where I live. I cautiously read the site’s location “settings” and aim to supply them with as little information as possible. This hesitation stems from as young as elementary school when we first learned about Internet safety. Our teachers would tell us horrible stories about Internet stalking and bullying that were scary enough to permanently prevent me from publishing any excessive personal information. Unlike most of my friends, I refuse to but my hometown or even my real phone number on my Facebook page.

As if Facebook doesn’t already know enough about you, it has just added a new component to their site to find out even more. According of Alyssa Bereznak, as of April 17, 2014, Facebook officially announced it would be adding the “Nearby Friends” feature. This feature will allow you to see your approximate distance from anyone within your network of friends. You will also be able to continuously and instantaneously share and update your location as you move from place to place. The good news about this feature is that you can choose whether to turn it on and you have the ability to pick the people that have access your location info. Once you have enabled the feature, a list of your friends will appear with a timestamp next to each name, indicating the time Facebook registered their location.

While this feature is new to Facebook, it is by no means a novel idea for the social media world. There are other social media sites such as Foursquare that solely revolve around location-service features. However, the issue that I find most frightening about Facebook containing this ability is how big the Facebook networks are. Facebook is a community that is made of all types of relationships; some are close ones and others are very distant. I have around 1,000 facebook friends and I can confidently say, I would feel uncomfortable having 990 of them constantly know my location.

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Image Courtesy of Flickr user Jeremy Tanner

Generally speaking, I think this feature poses a dangerous threat to people’s safety and privacy. As it is our worlds are becoming more public as the use of social media becomes more popular. The addition of location-features is another way to limit the privacy of our lives while simultaneously putting ourselves in danger.

Featured Image Courtesy of Flickr user Kurt Wagner

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