The tradeoff between convenience and privacy continues to grow in importance as technology becomes more intertwined in our lives. Tech giants like Facebook and Twitter have received backlash on how they handle data collected from users and the presence of targeted advertisements has raised even more questions for our online world.
While we are all well aware of social media apps collecting our personal data, you may not be as educated on other devices you use every day. When traveling to a new restaurant, you will probably use a navigation app to plan your route and avoid traffic delays. Whether you use Google Maps or Waze, our map apps are using our location and behaviors to collect data on us as we travel.
This visual created by The Zebra highlights the data that the most popular map apps collect on us, what they can infer and how that data can be used.
Map apps most likely know:
- Where you live
- Places you’ve visited
- How long you’ve stayed at businesses
- Your typical travel patterns
The act of navigating to a new destination shares more personal data than most of us are probably comfortable with. However, we’ve come to rely on these apps to get us where we need to go safely, and in the shortest time possible.
It’s important to know what companies are doing with your personal data. Even though data collected on you is anonymized, you’ll most likely receive targeted advertisements and can even be quoted higher insurance premiums if they know you live in a big city or have a long commute.
Luckily, you can take some measures if you feel uncomfortable with the amount of data collection. Disable location tracking on your phone and other devices and turn off the ability to track your location history.
To disable location tracking on an iPhone:
- Open settings
- Tap “privacy”
- Select “location services”
- Here you can select the option to turn all location services off
- Or you can manage the settings on individual apps by tapping each app and switching location services to “never” or “while using”
To disable location tracking on an Android:
- Open settings
- Select “advanced”
- Choose “app permissions”
- Tap “location” to see a list of apps with access to your location and turn permissions on or off
Even further steps include toggling off the location history so that you aren’t sharing this information with companies like Apple.
It’s important to note that data allows companies to deliver personalized experiences to users. So the tradeoff between users and brands means providing convenience and targeted information you might be interested in.
Our digital footprints extend way beyond the apps we use, the sites we visit, and the things we share. These devices have become so ingrained in our lives that we are now sharing our behaviors, beliefs, and interests with strangers and companies alike.
So next time you go to type in your next destination on your GPS or app, consider the information you’re sharing and ask yourself if you are comfortable with the tradeoff.
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