17 percent of people admit using social media location data to try and run into someone [Infographic]

As social media grows bigger and bigger, people continue adding more and more personal information to the internet. Users post about the food they’ve eaten recently, the trips they’ve taken, and even share photos of their kids.

While social media is for sharing critical moments in people’s lives, it can sometimes give more information than expected. If a phone has location services, someone’s location might be shared with more people than we know. For a closer look at who may be lurking on your location information, security company ADT surveyed more than 1,000 smartphone users who utilize location services and social media. Here is some data about people who keep their location services turned on, with whom they share their whereabouts, and what others might be doing with that information once they have it.

Where Are You?

While it’s common sense to keep personal information, such as your credit card number and Social Security number to yourself, it seems people are more willing to share their location. According to the study, more than 1 in 3 respondents say they often or always leave the location services enabled on their smartphones. Moreover, 39.6% say they sometimes have their location turned on. Only 3.8% of people never share their location.

How does knowing someone’s location affect their feelings of safety? More than half (54.4%) of people said they feel the same security level, but 33.6% felt more safe knowing their friends know where they are. Just 12% of those surveyed said they felt less secure when people know their location.

More than 41% of the women surveyed said they felt safer after sharing their location, while only 26.1% of men felt the same. The top reason people shared their location was for safety, but women were nearly 16 percentage points more likely to share for this reason.

A private Snapchat account is the social media platform respondents were most likely to share their location or check-in with (60.9%). But if people had a public Snapchat account, only 39.1% of people shared where they were. Twitter was the outlier of the four social media platforms analyzed – Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. Almost 3 in 4 Twitter users shared their location with a public account, compared to just 26.5% with a private account. Instagram is similar but with a much smaller percentage difference. People with a public account (56.5%) were more likely to share their location than those with a private account (43.5%).

The top reasons people check in on social media are traveling (62.9%), dining out (58.6%), and attending a concert or festival (51.4%).

On average, respondents reported sharing their location directly with four people – their significant other (55.8%), friends (40.1%), parents (39.9%), and siblings (35.7%). Knowing that these people had this information made them feel safer. The most significant percentage of people felt safe when sharing their location with their significant other (60.8%), and only 39.2% felt less secure in the same situation.

Respondents also reported having locations sent to them by their loved ones as well. The top four people that shared their locations with respondents were significant others (49.2%), friends (37.1%), parents (31.7%), and siblings (30.8%) – the same group of people with whom respondents shared their locations.

The group people were least likely to share their location with? Co-workers.

Who Is Monitoring Your Location?

How often are people checking the locations of others? Nearly 1 in 3 people check their significant other’s location every day. Children are the group monitored most often. Almost half (47.5%) of those surveyed admitted to checking their child’s location daily. Respondents’ friends were the group watched the least.

The study revealed that about 1 in 4 people admitted to checking an ex’s location after a breakup using social media or location services. Men (25.3%) were more likely than women (20.3%) to have done this.

Women tended to be more concerned about safety, while men worried more about social disparities. Women were four percentage points more likely to check someone’s location to assure their safety, but men (8.9%) were more than twice as likely to monitor someone’s location than women (4.7%) if someone canceled plans with them. Women also wanted to assess arrival time (48.1%) more than men (39.3%).

Respondents even reported using location services and check-ins to run into people they knew were out. About 1 in 6 people admitted to doing this, and men (21.2%) were more likely to do this than women (12.8%).

Locating the Risk

While sharing vacation photos on social media is fun, it also lets people know your house is empty, leaving valuables at risk. Nearly 45% of survey participants revealed they had a security system. But more than half (52.2%) of respondents feel their home and valuables are at risk due to social media location sharing. Only 23.9% feel their home is safe when revealing their location.

Of the people who feel location sharing puts their home at risk, only 31.3% share their location. But 46.4% of people who do not think it’s a risk will let others know via social media where they are.

Approximately 13.5% of respondents revealed their home was broken into while they were out. Of those, 40.7% had shared their location on social media. Nearly 1 in 4 people said the person who broke into their home could see their location on a social media platform. More than half (58.7%) of people with at least one child on social media said they had rules about sharing locations.

While being connected continuously can sound great and can keep people safe, it could also put people and valuables at risk. Whether you are concerned for someone’s safety or just want to know when people will arrive, sometimes using a private platform like texting could be better.

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