It seems every few months, people suddenly realize the iPhone is tracking their location data. There will be numerous blog posts throughout the interwebs, warning people of this fact, and giving directions of how to turn it off. And people are amazed and feel violated that a company like Apple would be keeping tabs on where they have been.
Of course another iOS update comes and turns their location collecting back on by default and iPhone users are none the wiser.
Back on topic though, how about if anyone could see precisely where you’ve been? With near pinpoint precision?
Ok, so maybe not anyone. Just anyone you’ve conversed with on Facebook Messenger. Friend or not.
A student at Harvard, Aran Khanna has discovered this is possible, and has created a Chrome extension making it easy for anyone to do. It seems the Facebook Messenger mobile app defaults to sending location data with each message. And it is extremely accurate information. Accurate to less than a meter.
Khanna discovered that with the frequency of messages bearing location data, he could easily figure out people’s schedules, right down to what their dorm room may be. And the not so wonderful thing about this? All the tracking is done without a user’s permission or knowledge.
Now, it’s been some time since I used Facebook Messenger, but when I last did, it wasn’t too impressive. It didn’t hold a candle to BBM. At the same time, sharing your location can be fun and useful. I’ve done it many times before on BBM. The difference is, it was done when I wanted and by choice.
At some point the general public may question why companies like Facebook, Apple, and Google choose to make the default settings those that steal user’s information. Until then, there’s now a Chrome extension that will make life so much easier for stalkers.
Do you use Facebook Messenger? If so, I’d like to suggest grabbing the extension, use it to track your friends (and even those that aren’t your friends) and show them. And once they realize just how at risk Facebook has left them, suggest they use a proper messenger. A messenger which prioritizes our privacy. Invite them to BBM!