News coverage by day
- In 2012, a media outlet reported that Facebook Messenger shared
personal geolocations by default
- In 2015, my demonstration displayed Facebook's shared data on a
map; it was downloaded over 85,000 times
- After 9 days of news coverage, Facebook released an update that requires
a user's permission to share geolocations
Facebook allows users to chat among themselves on a mobile
app called Facebook Messenger. From 2011 to the start of this study in May 2015,
Facebook Messenger collected and shared user geo-locations as the default setting
for every message sent from the Android mobile app. These locations were visible
to anyone in a group chat, regardless of his or her relationship to the sender
on the Facebook social network. Noticing a lack of significant public response
to the visible nature of geo-location data on Facebook Messenger, despite media
coverage dating back to 2012, I hypothesized that users were either (1) not
aware, or (2) not concerned about the collection and visibility of their
geo-location data on the app. This study explored this hypothesis by testing how
the public responded to easily seeing the historical geo-location data
collected and shared by Facebook Messenger. This study also tested the response
from Facebook, a company with a reputation for encouraging outside-the-box
"hacking". I wrote a browser application that requires a Facebook user to log
into their Facebook account and then displays on a map the geo-location data
shared with that user through Facebook Messenger chats. I announced the tool in
a blog post and publicized it on Twitter and a few other online forums. The
immediate public response was that of surprise and concern over the privacy
issue raised by the collection and visibility of the geo-location data.
Results summary: My tool has been downloaded over 85,000
times since its release, and more than 170 global news publications linked to
my post. During the first three days after release of the geo-location mapping
tool, Facebook also responded by demanding that I take down the tool, which I
did. Nine days after the release, Facebook made sharing geo-location data an
opt-in feature, allowing users to select to share personal geolocations in Facebook
Messenger, although all historical geo-location data is still archived and
shared. The results of the study suggest sufficient public attention may be
necessary for redress of reported privacy concerns.
Hundreds of millions of people share personal information on
Facebook. Starting in 2011, Facebook implemented initiatives focused on
"frictionless sharing" to automatically post a user's activity on music apps,
such as Spotify, or news readers, such as The Washington Post, that use
Facebook's Open Graph to integrate their websites more closely with Facebook.
 This automatic posting of songs listened to and articles read was not very
popular with users, and Facebook announced in May 2014 that it would decrease
the visibility of passively shared user activities on their friends' news
feeds. [2, 3, 4]
Regulators have also expressed privacy concerns with regard
to how Facebook handles sharing of user data. For example, in Europe, the
Belgian Privacy Commission found that Facebook "fails to offer adequate control
mechanisms" for the use of user data. Furthermore, "Facebook places too much
burden on its users, [who are] expected to navigate Facebook's complex web of
settings in search of possible opt-outs." Finally the commission stated that,
"Facebook's default settings related to behavioral profiling … are particularly
problematic." [5, 6]
In 2011 Facebook launched
Facebook Messenger, an application (or "app") for Android and iOS mobile
devices. Messenger has the ability to share geo-location with messages.  When a Facebook
user sends a message from a smartphone using Messenger, the user's physical
location can also be sent. Prior to a June 2015 update, unless a user changed the
initial default settings of the program, the app would collect and display
geo-location information with message content by default in all conversations
on the Android app, including conversations in chat groups with people who are
not direct friends on Facebook's social network. When the app first installs on
a mobile device, a notice appears that informs the user that the app will
collect and share geo-location information. After that notice appears, the only
other indicator of location data collection and sharing is a small blue icon
next to the textbox in a conversation. Figure 1 shows a screenshot of the
Messenger app with this icon highlighted in Android.
Figure 1. Image of Facebook Messenger's Android
application showing a message sent by Roger. The small icon in the lower right,
highlighted by a red box, is colored blue, showing that geo-location is being
broadcast along with the message.
Figure 2. The results of tapping a message with location
attached on the Android app. Tapping on the message "*margo sry android
autocorrct" reveals a map showing where the message originated.
Figure 3. iOS app showing sender's location after the
recipient clicks on a message with location attached.
Other Facebook users can view shared geo-locations on the Facebook Messenger application by tapping on individual messages in their chat log, which reveals a map of the location where the individual was when the message was sent (Figure 2). On iOS, the application requests access to the device's geo-location data , and a similar interface for sharing location data in chats exists in the iOS Messenger app (Figure 3). On the desktop version of Messenger , geo-locations can be viewed by moving a mouse over a small pin attached to a message, to reveal a similar map (Figure 4).
Figure 4. An image of a
chat with Keyon from Facebook Messenger's desktop web application. The small
pins next to the messages, highlighted by red boxes, show that geo-location is
attached to these messages (and can be viewed by hovering the mouse over
A user can disable geo-location sharing for individual
conversations by pressing the blue icon in the app. A user can also disable geo-location
sharing at any time for all messages by going into the application settings and
finding the option to disable it. Adjusting privacy controls for location
sharing on mobile operating systems is not entirely intuitive, as evidenced by the
number of popular sites that have felt the need to publish guides on how to
adjust geo-location controls.  Prior to the June 2015 Messenger update,
location data sharing was on by default in Android. It required user permission
to become perpetually active in the iOS Messenger app. 
In 2012, CNET was the first major website to raise concerns
about the privacy implications of Facebook Messenger's geo-location sharing feature.
 A few other publications subsequently voiced concerns. [13, 14] Facebook
did not take significant action to change the software in response to these
concerns, and so the geo-location sharing continued to operate unchanged.
There was not significant public pressure for change after
the initial news coverage about Facebook's location sharing settings. This
raises two questions: (1) whether Facebook users knew about the geo-location
collection and sharing, and (2) whether they cared about its privacy
Facebook's location data practices presented an opportunity
(1) to study how easy it is for a computer program to systematically copy the
data and (2) to test whether Facebook's initial notification on app
installation, along with the options to disable geo-location sharing within the
Messenger app and through the Android and iOS system settings, were sufficient
to satisfy the privacy concerns of users aware of the data sharing.
My Interest in Facebook Messenger
I became interested in this issue during the spring of 2015.
At the time, I was a junior at Harvard College and had been offered a summer
internship position at Facebook doing software development. I had secured the
internship through Harvard's Office of Career Services' (OCS) On Campus
Interview program. The internship was a paid position starting June 1, 2015,
and I had signed a letter of intent to join the company, although I was not to
be considered an employee until my June 1 start date, meaning that I
was not privy to any proprietary information. I was attracted to work at
Facebook by the popularity of its products and its publicly professed "hacker
culture", where "code wins arguments." 
My approach was to build an extension for a common web
browser so that a person running the extension could see the geo-locations of
any Facebook user who is sending them (or a chat group they are in) messages
through Facebook Messenger. I would then make the extension publicly available
and alert the public through a blog post, Twitter and online forums. This
approach made public what some may already be doing – harvesting geo-location
information about Facebook users they have been in conversations with. It also
provided transparency and feedback to users about their geo-location settings
on Facebook. If there was no reaction by users or Facebook, then Facebook's
current geo-location data practices were potentially sufficient to address
privacy concerns. My expectation was that the historical pattern of lack of
public pressure on this issue evidenced from 2012 through May 2015 would continue.
The extension is a
lightweight program (called a "script") that runs on Google's popular web
browser, Chrome. After a user logs into a Facebook account, when the Facebook Messenger
page appears on Chrome on a desktop computer, the script runs in the
background. It detects calls to update the message page, requests a copy of the
content and then plots the location data associated with the content onto a map
that appears in the browser. This approach allows the extension to access all
the geo-location data delivered to the browser. The precision of the location
coordinates was accurate enough to locate a user to within a meter. It
is important to note that all the data retrieved were accessible without the extension
if a user clicked on the map icon for each message. The script did nothing
illegal or malicious; rather, it accessed and displayed data already available
to the user. Furthermore, the data aggregated on the map remained temporarily
in memory and was discarded when the page reloaded. A full technical overview
of the system can be seen in Figure 5. Using the extension, a user can choose to
see a map of the geo-location data collected and shared by Facebook Messenger
about the user and about others users in the same chat group. Figure 7 shows a
demonstration of a map created with the extension.
I uploaded the Chrome extension
to the Chrome Web Store, marking it as unlisted so that only those with a
specific link, which I shared on my blog, could access it.  The title of
the extension on the Chrome Web Store was "Marauder's Map", which can be seen
in Figure 6. I also archived an open source copy of the code for the extension
in an MIT-licensed Github repository with the title "marauders-map".  This
repository contained the code and setup instructions for creating the extension
Figure 5. A graphical depiction giving a full technical
overview of the marauders-map Chrome extension. White boxes represent the
components injected by the extension. The extension consists of a Chrome
background script that copies asynchronous requests from the desktop Facebook Messenger
page to the Facebook cloud endpoint for retrieving messages, and then passes
the HTTP bodies of these requests to an injected content script running on the
Facebook Messenger page. This content script then emulates the original
asynchronous request (automatically adding the appropriate headers) and plots
the location data returned by Facebook onto a map drawn using the Mapbox API.
With this base code, the extension can collect data on all messages loaded onto
the page asynchronously. However, owing to optimizations in how Facebook
delivers data to the browser, some messages are sent embedded in the initial
HTML packet (via a protocol known as BigPipe). Using a simple asynchronous GET
request, the content script pulls this HTML packet and uses a regular
expression to parse the embedded location data from the messages, then plots
the data on the map.
Figure 6. A screenshot of the extension download page in
the Google Play store. Clicking the "Add to Chrome" button allowed users to
automatically install the extension. The total number of users (88,924) the
extension had acquired over its lifetime is visible next to the star rating in
the top left
Figure 7. A labeled example of a map created by the
The Blog Post
I drafted a blog post that introduced
me as an avid user of Facebook Messenger. The post highlighted the fact that
the Facebook Messenger App transmits geo-locations alongside many of the
messages sent from mobile devices. The post went on to describe how the
Marauder's Map extension aggregates this data onto a map. It noted that, at
least on Android devices, the default setting for Messenger sends geo-location
with messages. The blog also provided some examples from using the extension,
including how a person's geo-location can accumulate over time to reveal travel
patterns and other information.
Publicizing the Blog
On May 26, 2015, I published the blog post and corresponding
code on Medium.com.  I also posted URL links to the blog post and extension
to both Reddit (reddit.com/r/privacy) , a popular forum for discussions on
data privacy, and Hacker News (news.ycombinator.com) , a popular technical
forum. Medium, Reddit, and Hacker News all have a voting system so that the
most interesting articles are voted (or recommended) upwards to the top
listings. Finally, using my public Twitter handle (@arankhanna), I sent out a
tweet  asking my followers, consisting mainly of family and friends, to
read the post.
This study used, as one measure of public concern over
Facebook Messenger's sharing of geo-location data, the popularity ranking of my
posts on the three sites. If the public response to the posts was indifferent,
then the ratings would likely not increase on these forums. This study also
examined the quantity of news coverage received and the total number of
downloads of the extension as other measures of public concern. Finally, the
study examined Facebook's response to any public concern.
News of the blog went viral, starting within 24 hours of
posting and continuing for about 72 hours afterwards.
For the first 12 hours of posting, little happened. The
Reddit post received 7 upvotes, the Hacker News link also received 7 upvotes,
and the Medium story had 3 recommendations by the end of the day. By the
morning of the 27th, the story gained momentum on Twitter. Figures 8 and 9 show
the Twitter responses to my posts over the week after I initially posted the
blog. A total of 611 tweets and retweets reached a total follower audience of
3.63 million Twitter users.
Figure 8. Twitter Activity after initial blog post. The
total number of tweets about my posts per day between 5/26 and 5/31.
Of the public tweets, 57% appeared on 5/27 as the story
initially went viral globally and hit the front page of various forums such as
Medium, Reddit Privacy, and Hacker News. The Twitter data for Figures 8, 9, and
12 was gathered by searching through all public Tweets between 5/26 and 6/5
(using Twitter's native search) for mentions of my name, my Twitter handle,
Marauder's Map, and links to any of my postings and then recording all relevant
tweets, their author, and their time of release.
Figure 9. Twitter timeline. Total reach of tweets about
my posts over the active hours between 5/26 and 5/29. The total number of tweets
and retweets was 611 and the total number of Twitter followers reached was
The measure of reach is the number of followers the tweets
were delivered to. The figure shows the total number of tweets and the total
number of followers reached. The biggest boost came from Medium.com, which
tweeted about the post and promoted it on its site. The tweets from the largest
influencers (those with over 10k followers) are labeled.
The increased traffic to my posts raised their rankings. For
example, my post on Medium became the most recommended story of the day. Posts
linking to my blog and extension on both Hacker News and Reddit Privacy rose to
the front page of both by 8 a.m. PST. By 9 a.m. PST, tech bloggers and content
aggregators including The Next Web, Computerworld, and The
Huffington Post covered the story in their blog posts and articles. The
Huffington Post asked to directly cross-publish my Medium blog post on its
site. Afterward, information about my posts spread to Al Jazeera, The
International Business Times, and other major news organizations.
Figure 10. Press coverage after initial blog post. The
total number of press stories about my posts per day between 5/25 and 6/5. I
gathered the news data for Figures 10, 11, and 12 by searching for mentions of
my name, my Twitter handle, Marauder's Map and links to any of my postings
between 5/26 and 6/5 on Google News and recording all relevant stories, their
author, their time of release and their country of origin.
By the 28th, only two days after my original posting, news
stories about my posts appeared on CNN, The Guardian, The
Washington Post, and many large international European, Australian, and Brazilian
publications (e.g. La Stampa, Der Standard, Globo, NDTV,
The Sydney Herald). By the 28th, large TV networks such as CNBC,
ABC, CBS, and CNN had covered my posts as well. Figure 11 shows the total
number of stories written about my posts per country.
Figure 11. News coverage count by country. Count of news
publications about my posts published on or before 6/5 grouped by country of
The United States, Europe and India were the top three origins
for stories overall, with the United States accounting for over a third of all
Figure 12. Twitter activity and news coverage by day. Number
of tweets (right vertical axis) and press stories (left vertical axis) about my
posts per day between 5/27 and 6/5. The total count of news publications was
178 and the total count of tweets was 347. The count of tweets and stories appearing
on peak days are displayed.
There have been more than 85,000 downloads of the Chrome
extension since its release (Figure 6). Users continued to download the
extension even after I deactivated it in response to Facebook's request, as described
The afternoon of the 27th, one day after the Medium blog
post's publication, Facebook contacted me. My future manager phoned and asked
me not to speak to any press; however, I was told that I could keep my blog post
up. By that evening, the global communications lead for privacy and public
policy at Facebook called me to clarify Facebook's expectations that I not
speak to the press, saying that his objective was to hamper the spread of what
had become a damaging story.
By midday of the 28th, the global communications lead for
privacy and public policy at Facebook requested by email that I disable the
extension. I complied within the hour by deactivating the Mapbox API key
associated with the extension so that all current and future users could no
longer load the map used to display geo-location data.
On the morning of the 29th, three days after my initial
posts, media reported that my Chrome extension was turned off and no longer viable.
Additionally, Facebook had tweaked its code to remove location data from
browsers. This alteration did not change Facebook's policy of collecting and
sharing geo-location data by default from the Facebook Messenger app on Android
and with user permission on iOS. However, Facebook no longer transmitted this
location data to browsers. This action merely halted the use of an extension
such as mine that uses browser data. Geo-locations remained visible on the
Facebook Messenger mobile application, and seemingly, the map could be rebuilt
using an interface to the mobile application.
On the afternoon of the 29th, three days after my initial
posts, Facebook phoned me to inform me that it was rescinding the offer of a
summer internship, citing as a reason that the extension violated the Facebook
user agreement by "scraping" the site. The head of global human resources and recruiting
followed up with an email message stating that my blog post did not reflect the
"high ethical standards" around user privacy expected of interns. According to
the email, the privacy issue was not with Facebook Messenger, but rather with
my blog post and code describing how Facebook collected and shared users'
On June 4, nine days after my original posts, Facebook
officially announced a Messenger update with a new feature requiring users to opt
into sharing their location during chats. Sharing would no longer be the
default. The press release did not mention the previous default settings for
geo-location data and did not disclose with whom Facebook would share the
previously collected data.  As of June 2015, shared geo-location data from
before the update remains viewable on the mobile application, and users who did
not update to the new versions of the Messenger app on iOS and Android still
share geo-locations in the same manner as before.
At the beginning of the study, historical behavior by
Facebook and its users suggested that there might not be significant public
concern about Facebook Messenger's sharing of geo-location data. Even though
the media had highlighted the issue four years earlier, Facebook had not been
concerned enough to make any fundamental change to its software. So, why the
big change now?
What seems to have made the difference was transparency. It
is possible that before my extension and blog post, the degree of location data
collection and sharing by Facebook Messenger was hard for an average user to
notice and thus did not raise significant concern. Without public pressure,
Facebook may have lacked significant incentive to change. My extension and blog
post made the data collection and sharing practice real and transparent. The
resulting public attention, with over 85,000 downloads of my tool, more than
170 news articles, and 3.6 million Twitter users exposed to my posts through
tweets and retweets, seemed to motivate Facebook to react.
What does this say about privacy protection? Can we
reasonably expect Facebook or others with an interest in collecting and sharing
personal data, to be responsible guardians of privacy? Could this work have
been done inside Facebook to understand how its users view the collection and
sharing of their data?
Must future privacy guardians always be on the outside?
||Darwell B. Facebook's frictionless sharing mistake. SocialTimes. January
22, 2013. http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/facebooks-frictionless-sharing-mistake/289289
||Facebook. Making It Easier to Share With Who You Want. May 22, 2014. http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2014/05/news-feed-fyi-giving-people-more-control-over-when-they-share-from-apps/
||Hamburger E. Facebook gives up on automatically posting everything you
do online. The Verge. May 27, 2014. http://www.theverge.com/2014/5/27/5754862/facebook-gives-up-on-automatically-sharing-everything-you-do-online-open-graph
||Popper B. Facebook's social reader apps nosedive in popularity. The
Verge. May 7, 2012. http://www.theverge.com/2012/5/7/3005580/facebook-open-graph-frictionless-social-reader-decline
||Interdisciplinary Centre for Law and ICT. ICRI/CIR and iMinds-SMIT
advise Belgian Privacy Commission in Facebook investigation. KU Leuven. March
31, 2015. http://www.law.kuleuven.be/icri/en/news/item/icri-cir-advises-belgian-privacy-commission-in-facebook-investigation
||Because Facebook in Europe officially operates out of Ireland, the firm
states that it formally abides by Irish regulations in the EU. See Facebook.
Facebook Response to European Commission Communication on personal data
protection in the European Union. Accessed July 30, 2015. http://ec.europa.eu/justice/news/consulting_public/0006/contributions/not_registered/facebook_en.pdf
||Facebook. A Faster Way to Message on Mobile. October 9, 2011. https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook/a-faster-way-to-message-on-mobile/10150249543542131
||McHugh M. Facebook Messenger Will Finally Stop Telling People Where You
Are. Wired. June 5, 2015. http://www.wired.com/2015/06/stop-facebook-messenger-telling-people/
||Burnham K. Facebook Messenger: 5 Misconceptions. InformationWeek. August
P. How to keep Facebook Messenger from sharing your location. Android Central.
August 9, 2014. http://www.androidcentral.com/how-keep-facebook-messenger-sharing-your-location
J. How to prevent Facebook Messenger from sharing your location. CNET. May 10,
M. Beware: Facebook Messenger Reveals Locations, Introduces Read Confirmations.
gHacks Tech News. May 5, 2012. http://www.ghacks.net/2012/05/05/beware-facebook-messenger-reveals-locations-introduces-read-confirmations/
D. Facebook Adds Locations, Read Receipts to Messenger App. PCMag. May 6, 2012.
from Mark Zuckerberg pg. 67-70 of Facebook. Form S-1 for United States
Securities and Exchange Commission. February 1, 2012. http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1326801/000119312512034517/d287954ds1.htm#toc287954_10
Marauders Map. Chrome Web Store. May 26, 2015. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/marauders-map/mliofombcghaamgjkmmmmlepkiacdhkh
marauders-map. Github. May 26. 2015. https://github.com/arank/marauders-map
A. Stalking Your Friends with Facebook Messenger. Medium. May 26, 2015. https://medium.com/@arankhanna/stalking-your-friends-with-facebook-messenger-9da8820bd27d
I wrote a chrome extension to show how easy it is to track your friends'
locations with Facebook Messenger. Reddit. May 26, 2015. https://www.reddit.com/r/privacy/comments/37db80/i_wrote_a_chrome_extension_to_show_how_easy_it_is/
Hacker News. May 26, 2015. https://news.ycombinator.com/submitted?id=arankhanna
Check out this blog + extension I wrote about how your friends can track you
from Facebook Messenger
… . Twitter. May 26, 2015. https://twitter.com/arankhanna/status/603293036693463040
A New Way to Send a Location in Messenger. June 4, 2015. http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2015/06/a-new-way-to-send-a-location-in-messenger/
Aran Khanna is a senior at Harvard College majoring in
Computer Science joint with Mathematics. During his time at Harvard he has
interned at Microsoft, Novus, a hedge fund data analysis startup based in New
York City, and Marianas Labs, a deep learning startup based in Mountain View.
Aran is an active blogger in his free time and is passionate about the impact
the increasing role of technology in our lives is having on our privacy.
Referring Editor: Latanya Sweeney
Khanna A. Facebook's Privacy Incident Response: a study of geolocation sharing on Facebook Messenger. Technology Science. 2015081101. August 11, 2015. https://techscience.org/a/2015081101
Khanna A. Replication Data for: Facebook's Privacy Incident Response, a study of geolocation sharing on Facebook Messenger. Harvard Dataverse. August 10, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.7910/DVN/D2SNRI
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Enter your recommendation for follow-up or ongoing work in the box at the end of the page.
Feel free to provide ideas for next steps, follow-on research, or other research inspired by this paper.
Perhaps someone will read your comment, do the described work, and publish a paper about it.
What do you recommend as a next research step?
The demonstration code in this paper used the browser. Is the same information still available if you wrote code that could access the information that would be delivered to a mobile phone? [Editors]
Which news outlets were critical in spreading the word? Have these information flows been instrumental in possibly influencing other technology changes? [Editors]
I would like to see some ethnographic studies that elucidate the depth of understanding of this issue by the "common man." How is privacy understood by older or less tech savvy individuals? How likely are these people to be aware of these issues? What protections should exist for those who are not knowledgeable enough to protect themselves?
Interview with Apple's Tim Cook and get on his privacy/secyurity team! (And thanks for the important difference you've already made.) Continued Good Luck on your career!
First of all, thank you for your great work. I would like to see more studies about privacy awareness in people. What will make people act? What makes companies act?
Excellent analysis of the information dissemination through various channels Aran! I would like to see more studies that track information dissemination. What are good ways to collect that data?
Maybe this was a feature in messenger, not a flaw. Maybe opt-out rather than opt-in made for a better user experience. I would like to see a study about utility. Did users like it better the other way? Or, are users indifferent to the change? Is anyone complaining about the change? Your paper suggests that the media coverage made a difference. Is the media response a good proxy for how users feel?
I would like to see a study of whistle blower laws. Maybe they need to be beefed up.
This is a brilliant study and exposes the lack of privacy concerns by companies like Facebook, which pay little more than lip service to an issue that most Internet users care about deeply. I'm sure Facebook felt its collective "face" flush over the embarrassment of this, got indignant and revoked the student's internship. Instead, the company should have hired him on the spot. A company that exalts itself as encouraging hacking culture, as Facebook does, would have been a good candidate to have hired him, but they did not. I would like to see a study about corporate structures and cultures to better understand the internal pressures that lead to this outcome, which seems typical.
Question: Did the author Mr.Khanna consult his supervisor before publishing the tool? Did he even know who his Facebook supervisor might be? He did this work while he was still at school and before the summer internship started. Mr. Khanna said he promptly complied with Facebook instructions to stop the demo. I would like a study about the role and responsibilities of summer interns who do research at school and who are employees for a summer. How does this work? Can only students who will never do research related to a company be hired by the company? Should students who want to be hired never do this kind of research? It seems optimal to have students interested in doing this kind of work actually being hired by these companies. Is that possible?
It's not just FACEBOOK that's doing this. I would like to see a study of geolocation sharing across apps.
Excellent work. I would like to vote up Suggestion 4. I am quite common, with zero tech savvy. Yet even I can recognize the implications of hacking and tracking personal devices without the user's knowledge and my concern is dismissed by most as paranoia. I would love to know what the tipping point might be for people. We love our wired world and we have willingly put on blinders, when are we forced to look and know?
I write this not to thank Mr. Khanna. If the number of people who tweeted is in millions then the number of passive people would probably be at least 10 times. I was surprised by the fact that geolocation pin points to within a meter. That's scary. I would like a study that tracks how much of a person's time is captured in someone's geo-location database. If I carry my mobile phone with me all the time, then how often does some database somewhere know where I am?
Very interesting. It would be interesting too to know how many times similar historical private information's (like users position, calls, messages, etc.) have been accessed after creation dates, from what location, read only or modified, moved to another category/location, etc. The metadata of archived files for alpha individuals and for beta groups (e.g., by interests, age, location, incomes) can provide many details. An analyze from this reversed point of view, of how the databases in question are used further by their owners, could reveal their objects of interest (not really connected with targeted advertising), as well as lots of details about the interested persons behind.
It would be interesting to learn how much is known by vulnerable populations about about default location sharing of Facebook and other apps. Victims of domestic violence, jurors, and police are examples of populations that may be vulnerable in different ways.
If only facebook itself views my geo location, it wouldn't be an issue for me. But if others can see it, then it is. I would like to see a survey of personal attitudes towards geolocation sharing.
When Facebook started selling mobile ads in 2012, not even the keenest optimists could have predicted how big a success they would become. In each of the past ten quarters, mobile ads have accounted for more then 90% of Facebook's revenue growth. In the first six months of 2015, all of the company's growth came from advertising on tablets and smartphones. Mobile ad revenue now accounts for 76 percent of Facebook's advertising revenue and 72 percent of total revenue. I would be interested to know the role of geo-tagging in FB`s revenues as stated above. If all users disabled their geo-tagging, what will be the impact on FB to sell customized ads.
I cannot find out "Is geo-location so important to be used by applications". I mean it should be an option like "What's App" gives share your location , only with those we want to share and not by default with all. Pin-point accurate geo-location is not necessary rather only the region from which the user is online is sufficient to share. I appreciate the way Mr. Aran did the whole analysis and presentation systematically. Big companies should take care of their users who blindly believe and uses their applications and should seek prior permission before collection and share of user's data about location. I would like to see a study to know if more gross geo-location reporting would work as well in many apps that use geo-location.
I see that you do not cite names from Facebook, which understandably is in keeping with most academic guidelines and with most human subject considerations. Everything should be documented and if applicable in writing such as your internship. The fact your paper does not give names of specific people does not hold them accountable for thier actions, and makes investigations much harder. I would have had a signed legal internship document before I moved. I would like to see, among other things, an ethongraphic study that interviews employees and includes those involved. For that, I assume if researchers contact you that you will share the names of the people.
Found your site on Google. This is a cool post. I'd like to see you take the main idea from this article and carete another second experiment, and maybe you could embed a vid, also?
Read this article because of my school assignment. Do we still have privacy? Thank you for educating people and making me aware of everything that is happening now.
Apparently, when you download a copy of your Facebook data, it also downloads a .txt file called "security". If opened with MS Word, it shows ALL account activity, used cookies, user agents, IP addresses, estimated geolocations and administrative records such as name changes and checkpoint accesses. At this point, we all know that Facebook collects data on its users. But perhaps you could demonstrate how vast that data is.
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