The Integration of Locative Capabilities with Social Media
The increasing use of smartphones has seen the growth of social media usage. Smartphones have changed the way people use social media. With their ‘always on’ internet connection and their support for a variety of applications, people can now connect to social media platforms at any time and from any location (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). One of the most useful integrations is one between social media and location based services (LBS). GPS, mobile signal towers, and digital compasses are all technologies that help people to calculate positions. Locative social apps include Google maps, Facebook Places, and Foursquare (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). They enable social media users to understand the world in perspectives like online and offline. The physical and virtual worlds have been merged to a large degree.
Construction of Self-Identity
LBS usage on social media fuses physical locations of users to their social media participation, which brings about virtual self-identity. Social media users select geocoded data to share their experiences in different parts of the world. Social media users have different perceptions on sharing their locations. Barker, Barker, Bornann, and Neher (2012) suggest that sometimes friends share where they are to connect with their friends. If someone checks into a restaurant and shares it on Facebook, their friends who are around the place can join them. Others do it as a sign of loyalty to their social media groups (Barker et al., 2012). This mostly applies to influential people on social media whose lives are of interest to their followers.
Schwartz (2014) explains the online display of mobility as a form of self-identity to one’s friends and social media users, which brings up the digital expression of “spatial self”. The concept of the spatial self explains people’s intentional behaviors of self-presentation that lead to dynamic and sometimes idealized performances of who they are, based on places that they visit. Locative programming interfaces on social media allow people to construct spatial self by including their locations. They also help social media users to include their location while identifying themselves.
Today, locative apps are widely used on Facebook, Foursquare, and Instagram. They have changed the traditional way of creating user identity through visual aids and text. Tweets, check-ins, posts that have locations attached to them other forms of geographical presentations are considered more informative. Four Square encourages its users to check-in by giving awards. This has made tagging the location an appealing measure as people build their online self-identity.
Building Social Relationships
As Hinton and Hjorth (2013) put it, LSB applications blend geography with socialization. Smartphones can be used anywhere. LSB applications also archive locative information on social media. People can create bonds over the information even in future based on personal experiences that were shared about a certain location. Augmented Reality gives access to location based, real-time experience to users on social media. Adriana de Souza e Silva uses the term ‘hybrid’ places to refer to social situations in which remote and physical locations can no longer be clearly distinguished. In the hybrid places, social media users and their social connections are in the center of the social world, which forms the basis of understanding the physical world (Hinton and Hjorth, 2013).
Announcing social locations enable people to create interpersonal connections with individuals who share patterns of geographical locations. With the online disclosure of users’ activities in physical places, communications could then be generated between individuals. Random friends on Facebook might discover that they live in the same town due to regular geographical tags of the same locations, such as clubs, restaurants, or malls. The demographics that are derived could also be used to link up like-minded people (Farman, 2012). For example, when users reveal their presence in a certain library through Foursquare, other people who are online might start a conversation with them. Similarly, Facebook posts enables users to relate to certain places and sparks off conversations. Therefore, similar location traces lead to the emergence of social relationships among strangers. Locative social media augments interactions among networked groups of people. Furthermore, social media users could strengthen interpersonal relationships by sharing locative data with acquaintances who are offline. Photos or videos that have the location tagged on them also generate social relationships through the identification of physical features of the place. Additionally, sharing check-ins on social media acts contributes to the publicity of businesses, mostly restaurants or other recreational activities. Social media is influential in that friends are usually curious and more confident about trying out experiences that their friends have had, rather than completely new places.
The Danger in Geolocation Tags
While locative applications make the world a better place by enhancing positive interactions, it also raises security concerns among users. Sometimes the geographical tag is as precise as someone’s house address, not just the street or town. Sometimes, the location is updated even without the user’s knowledge. For example, it is common for people to find out that they have authorized apps on their phone to access their location data. Cases like these as well as those where users posted their locations intentionally can expose one to various security problems. With the increase in usage of locative and social media, a huge amount of data is stored from different users. People post their locations innocently but it ends up in the hands of other people with negative motives. Some people collect people’s locational information to prepare on how they can reach them and hurt them or steal their property.
When one is away from home, especially on vacation, posting their geographical locations leaves them exposed to the danger of home invaders. Leaving one social media account public makes the location visible to strangers. Some social media users update their location details and check-ins very frequently. This makes it easy for people to track their daily routine. It is easy to predict where they will be on a specific day, making them prone to attacks. Location tags should not be made at a daily basis or in a manner that makes it easy to follow one’s routine. For example, posting a location at a specific club every end of the month makes it very predictable that one will be at that location around that time of the months. It is easy for malicious individuals to follow someone and attack him or her.
Locative apps are digital services that enable people to tag their geographical locations. They are sued simultaneously with social media. Location based services automatically compute one’s location and attached it to a post on social media. These services have taken social media interaction to another level. It enhances the creation of new relationships based on people’s locations. Sometimes, it brings like-minded people together, which is the goal of most people as they seek new interactions. On the other hand, it is possible for geographical location tags to be misused by malicious to conduct attacks or robbery. Social media users should take precautionary measures to avoid being victims of attacks. One way to stay safe is by not using the geographical tags too frequently.
- Barker, M., Barker, D. I., Bornann, N. F., and Neher, K. E. (2012). Social Media Marketing: A Strategic Approach. Boston: Cengage learning
- Farman, J. (2012). Mobile interface theory: Embodied space and locative media. New York: Routledge.
- (2016). The Last three Months on Foursquare. Retrieved from https://foursquare.com/infographics/500million?city=new%20york
- Hinton, S., & Hjorth, L. (2013). What is Web 2.0? Understanding Social Media (pp. 7 – 31). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
- Schwartz, R., & Halegoua, G. R. (2014). The spatial self: Location-based identity performance on social media. New Media & Society, 1461444814531364.