Assessment 3 · Uncategorized

Locative Mobile Social Networks

Assessment 3 – Online Article
Zixiao Liu (SID: 450287495)
Instructor: Kai Soh, Tuesday 5-8 PM


With the representation of Facebook, social media has become an essential part of everyday life. As smart phones are increasingly, though unevenly adopted around the globe, mobile media has become an important portal for both social and locative media (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). Smart phones provide not only easy access to the social media sites, but also functions including global positioning system (GPS), geo-tagging and Google Maps which have become an indispensable part nowadays.

Locative mobile media therefore gains popularity by using the technology. It not only provides the convenience for social media users a chance to get acquainted with people nearby, creates new kind of intimacy, redefines the meaning of place and space, but also boosts the emergence of locative and augmented mobile gaming industry.

The emergence of location service

Since 21st century, mobile phones are becoming increasingly location-aware, technological development such as GPS and tapping has empowered the device to use and share positioning data through a faster 3G/4G network, across space and between friends. Location service has become an indispensable part of social media, embedded by most Social networking sites and instant messaging applications, it casts considerable influence on the traditional definition of location and space.


Locative media applications start to emerge around 2002, as games and assistance to artist’s project (Tuters&Varnelis, 2006). In 2003, a Japanese game Mogi gained popularity when location-based services had been integrated into cell phones in 2001 (Grajski& Kirk, cited in Southern, 2003). It was a game where players collected geographically located tokens in popular locations and also allowing them to chat with users nearby.

Except the wide application to games and art projects, location-based service is gradually embedded on most social networking sites. Facebook cautious but deliberately launched their nearby service in December, 2012, an ambitious move that enables it to serve both as a local recommendation platform but also a mobile centred advertising portal (Wilken, 2014).

Whereas, in China, WeChat was designed and launched in 2011 and gradually set the location services by promoting People Nearby and Real-time location features. These features not only encourages people to share their location within a post or share, but also providing the convenience and potential to reach out to other users within a specific distance nearby.


Humphreys (2007, 2010) argued that mobile social network ultimately change the way participants engaged with and experienced the environment, adding a sense of familiarity to the original meaning of space and place. Applications and games in recent years take advantage of the surge of location service on smartphones, and attracts users to engage in an intriguing way.

Foursquare, which is designed by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai in the late 2008, is a successful location-based social network that attracts 55 million people worldwide (About Foursquare, 2015). It combines the traditional gaming elements with the location service and coordinates various social interactions. Lefebvre (1991) demonstrated that space is understood as being socially constructed through use), by encouraging people to engage with public space to create new meanings. Therefore, foursquare has the potential to produce new understanding of place (Evens, 2014). However, there is still limitations to Foursquare, as Southern (2012) argued, it focuses majorly on the “check-in” function but neglect the journey to certain places. Locative Mobile Social Networks (LMSN), however, focus more on and in between, rather than the nodes. It is the journey, as also defined by Southern as “comobility”, that is where “both communications and sociology may benefit from artistic appropriations, interventions and experiments. (Southern, 2012)”


Proximity, Intimacy and People Nearby

LMSN has added new meanings to the notion of proximity. While nearness is related to the sense of closeness, familiarity and intimacy, distance is associated with strange and remoteness. However, the social media has changed this situation by breaking the actual geographic distance. Online social media exemplifies that social connections across vast geographical distances can be intimate. People nowadays, no matter young and old, create new forms of intimacy and different context of expressing intimacy through various technical platforms (Hinton &Hjorth, 2014).

Surprisingly though, study () shows that social interactions online often privilege relationships of lower social distance. Specifically, people would choose socially closer partners to work with even though they might not be the best choice for a partnership. When the social closeness intertwine with the geographic closeness, an application called Loopt created an alarming system which inform users when someone in their network is close to them, by notifying the distance between users and their friends online.

Online location-based applications certainly changed the traditional notion of closeness. Rather than “physical closeness which could fosters psychological closeness and mutuality” (Burgoon et al, 2002), location service creates cyber closeness through various LMSN platforms. Facebook and WeChat enables users to search and add new friends to their networks through distance-searching, while Tinder uses location service to search for friends and potential relationships nearby. Though the purposes of each platforms vary and unintentional they might be, they undoubtedly help users to build intimacy more easily.


Ingress and Pokémon Go- Locative Games

In recent years, as media follows the trends of mobilization and has become more playful by using geographic data, users increasingly interweave their everyday experience with virtual environment (Hjorth & Richardson, 2017).

Developed by Niantic, Ingress is a location-based, augmented-reality mobile game. In the game, players compete to capture and occupied the virtual portal situated in the real world locations in order to “control the world’. This game not only highlights the cultural significance of spaces but also add new meanings to it. For gamers who play Ingress, a church nearby means not simply a place where he prays, but also a valuable portal in the game.


Following the successful launch of Ingress, Niantic went on and created another location- based hybrid game by using the valuable Ingress location database. The popular game Pokémon Go has gained much attention over the first weeks of July, 2016. People from many countries downloaded the Pokémon Go application and entered an augmented reality. Users wonder around the neighborhood in search for rare Pokémon and compete with other players at the virtual gym.

Pokémon Go represents the playful turn in contemporary media culture, the omnipresence of location-based mobile media nowadays and the ongoing development of augmented media. The notion of ambient play is elaborated by Hjorth & Richardson (2014), which “mobile media create new modes of engagement that entangle attention and distraction.” Pokémon Go are undoubtedly ambient as they become a part of our daily routines, pedestrian movement and interaction with people around the neighborhood (Hjorth & Richardson, 2017).


While the game is recognized as a good experience, by connecting the virtual game with real life, encouraging users to do physical exercises and facilitating human to human interactions (Wawro, 2016). However, it is also vital to be aware of the downsides of these sorts of location-based games. It also generates debates from scholars concerning the risk, surveillance and privacy (Hjorth & Richardson, 2017). Pokémon gamers sometimes intrude into dangerous areas or private territories without permissions in order to catch rare Pokémon. Except for the risk, surveillance and privacy, locative mobile games may also cause people to generate the feelings of loneliness and inaccessibility (Bliss, 2016).

Application to our Campaign

Locative mobile media is to a certain extent helpful to our #bethefilter campaign. We ask our initial participants to take and post a photo with a banner of #bethefilter with their current locations tagged on the post. In this way, not only social media users nearby are more likely to see the post and the hash tag, but also enables us to create a map showing other potential participants that there are already many people who are from other parts of the world are into this and supports our campaign.


 Locative mobile social networking has been changing our perception of space and place by creating new orders of networks. While it create a new sense of network and intimacy, the location technologies enables the emergence of locative games which add playful elements to the notion of space and creates new interpretation of space.

It is hard to foresee what type of application and social implication which locative mobile media will creates, but critical analysis is always crucial in understanding the new technologies and its implications.


Word Count: 1423


Link to the Comment: addiction/comment-page-1/#comment-642



  • About Foursquare (2015) Available at:
  • Bliss, L. (2016, July 12). Pokémon GO has created a new kind of flâneur. The Atlantic City Lab. Retrieved from baudelaire/490796/
  • Burgoon, J. K., Bonito, J. A., Ramirez, A. J., Dunbar, N. E., Kam, K., & Fischer, J. (2002). Testing the interactivity principle: Effects of mediation, propinquity, and verbal and nonverbal modalities in interpersonal interaction. Journal of Communication, 52(3), 657- 677.
  • Hinton, S. &Hjorth, L. (2013). Social, locative and mobile media. In Understanding social media (pp. 120-135). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
  • Hjorth, L., & Richardson, I. (2014). Gaming in social, locative and mobile media. Basingstoke, U.K: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Hjorth, L., & Richardson, I. (2017). Pokémon GO: Mobile media play, place-making, and the digital wayfarer. Mobile Media & Communication, 5(1), 3-14.
  • Humphreys, L. (2010). Mobile social networks and urban public space. New Media & Society, 12(5), 763-778.

8 thoughts on “Locative Mobile Social Networks

  1. The article opens a window for me to know deeply about location-based technique. The author clearly worked through the definition and the development of locative social network. Furthermore, she gave some great examples, such as Tinder, WeChat and Pokemon Go to illustrate how location-based social media or application works.
    Location-based applications influence people’s lives in many ways. For instance, it has a large impact on our social relations. The emergence of Pokemon Go attracted loads of players to go outside and see the world from their home. Tinder and WeChat allow folks to meet a new person they may be interested in. In large degree, locative social networks expand people’s social circle. In addition, location-based techniques develop a new business model. As it mentioned in the article, the Foursquare could recommend restaurants or other service based on users’ location. In this case, Foursquare can sell the location data of users to these restaurants or company. Da Zhong Dian Ping, a Chinese location-based application works in a similar way with the Foursquare. A large number of users look for a recommendation on it and they also share their experience and comments with others.
    Overall, LBS is widely used in our social life. It could be seen that it is linked to the author’s campaign which is a good way to apply the concept and I think that our campaign could also use this idea.


  2. Author mentions “Pokestops” that a popular game based on real geographic environment and is an important aspect of “augmented reality”. A core element of the game is the dotted around the map. The popularity of pokemon Go shows us locative can be harnessed, through the balance of social media and game. Human society has entered into the mobile Internet era, with the popularization of 3g, 4g technology; and the development of smart phones, mobile apps, locative social mobile with our shadow and affect every aspect of human life. Portability and unbounded is the biggest advantage that mobile media differentiates from other media. Anyone who use a mobile phone can spread information anytime and anywhere, minimizing the time and location barriers. On the other hand, it also causes people to be exposed to the mass media all the time, which is completely covered by the information space built by mass media. But it refers to the personal privacy when people share the mobile data through locative mobile social networking. “it is likely that a significant slice of consumers does not stop to think about the long-term effects of sharing our most personal data within a network of global corporation”( Lipschultz, 2018)


  3. The article provides an in-depth evaluation of the universality and development of location-based technology using various types of mobile social media networks. Zixiao discusses the development process of various location-based technologies and its benefits in enhancing user efficiency. Most companies, especially in the transport sector utilize location-based technologies to ensure their clients receive quality services. For instance, taxi applications such as Uber and GPS map avenues, and targeted takeaways use this technology to ensure products are delivered to clients within the shortest time possible. It is significant to note that certain positioning entertainment platforms create a new entertainment model through the combination of reality and virtual technologies. The author also illustrates the benefits of this technology while highlighting the risks for of playing location-based games. Indeed, there is still room for improvement.
    Presently, most individuals are relying on Web 2.0 on virtual worlds and social networks. The location-based technology enables the connection of individuals in real life by pulling them from the virtual world. The new technology is a significant improvement that has revolutionized communication on various social media avenues and is gradually becoming an integral part of the mobile social network. Most businesses will shift to this new technology era in the future.


  4. This article gives me a deeper understanding of the close connection between Location-based technology and daily life, also helps me learn some definitions and extensions of the location-based social network. The author uses clear theories to support and verify his views, also presents some representative examples, such as WeChat’s nearby search function, the popular PokemonGO game, powerfully illustrates the status of social media to the user’s surprise and changes. Location-based social networks do bring many different changes and tastes to our lives. We can use WeChat to reach people around us by positioning technology, expand people’s communication range, and enhance people’s ability to make friends. Pokemon GO games bring people different operating experience, through the combination of location and virtual reality game character, let people immersed in the game, has enriched people’s amateur life. But I also agree with the author’s opinion that while positioning social network brings us surprise and pleasure, it also brings us some harms and negative influences. For example, we may search for different strangers through WeChat, and locate the system to reveal people’s privacy, etc. In addition, when people concentrate on playing the game, they will try to catch a rare spirit and ignore their own safety. So location-based social networks, like the Internet, have both sides and need to be rational. Overall, location-based social media has brought us a lot of convenience in life. Now we cannot do without them, but some technical loopholes still need to be further improved.


  5. This is a really impressive article and the author uses many examples like Tinder, Wechat, Pokemon and so on to explain what locative mobile social networks benefits our contemporary life. According to this article, LMSN breaks the boundaries of space and time and redefine the relationship between people. It helps people to extend their social circle.

    However, it still exists considerable problem like the lack of encryption. LMSN uses the smartphone’s GPS to track user’s location bur however it cannot ensure the privacy of its users. Let’s take Tinder for example, the information needs to be provided to register an Tinder account includes a username, a password, birthday and phone number. Then the app will ask its users to disclose their gender, profile photos and more personal information such as their interests and the places they have visited. Besides, it also encourages users to share their contacts to avoid showing you the people you have phone number. However, what has been confirmed is that competent hackers are able to access the account information and even the chat history on Tinder. This means not only the users’ details but also the personal information of all the contacts in their phone will be leaked out. Thus, the problem of LMSN cannot be ignored.

    Ensuring the privacy of users matters to Tinder because apparently, the accurate personal details is one of the key elements to get more suitable matches efficiently on such a dating app. If Tinder is unable to protect the privacy, it will be easily beaten by their competitors because the users won’t trust the platform any more.


  6. Locative games such as Pokémon Go and Ingress are built upon player’s knowledge of the environment. Players are required to obtain localized knowledge in order to be able to play within the urban environment. For example, one of the most important features of Pokémon Go is Poke Stop. Poke Stops are usually at particular landmarks or historical buildings; therefore, users have to be familiar with the transportation. However, I’ve read a few news articles regarding Pokémon Go, that serval accidents were being reported by its users because they are unfamiliar with the location. Drivers were playing on their phone while driving and were not paying attention to the road that caused injuries. Also, some inappropriate landmarks were being set as Poke stop, such as the hospital, church or even 911 Memorial. I do agree with the author’s point of locative mobile social networking creates a sense of intimacy. I personally really enjoyed playing Pokémon Go because unlike any other games, it allows me to step outside of my house and visit many places and met people with similar interests. However, since Pokémon Go is a locative game that tracks user’s location while playing using Google Map as their source of the map, I think that privacy is also an important issue that needs to be discussed.


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