Location-Based Social Networks

Location-Based Social Networks

Declan Traynor, Kevin Curran
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1981-4.ch015
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The ability to gather and manipulate real world contextual data, such as user location, in modern software systems presents opportunities for new and exciting application areas. A key focus among those working in the area of Location-Based services today has been the creation of social networks which allow mobile device users to exchange details of their personal location as a key point of interaction. While the initial interest in these services has been exceptionally high, they are plagued by the same challenges as all Location Based services, regarding the privacy and security of users and their data. This chapter aims to investigate the area of Location-Based Social Networks (LBSNs), with a view to documenting how they contribute to a new form of expertise due to the now accurate knowledge of where people are actually located at a moment in time.
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Of the LBSNs discussed in this paper, Google Latitude is probably the simplest in terms of its features. Its core goal is to “Let you see where your friends are right now” (Google, 2011). Each user can invite friends and family with a Google account to start sharing their location. Once users are visible to one another, each can see the other’s location every time they choose to update that information using the Latitude application installed on their mobile device or computer. Google offers a few simple ways to make use of this facility; keeping a history of your locations, receiving alerts to your phone that a friend is nearby or displaying your current location as your status message on the Google Talk service, for example. Latitude is an example of a LBSN which places emphasis on users’ control of their own location privacy, allowing users to only share locations with pre-authorised contacts and allowing location hiding for individual contacts.

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