Last week, WhatsApp announced that users will now be able to share their live location with their friends and family. With one click of a button, users will now be able to provide their exact location to their contact.
The recipient will then be able to track the user in real time, via a map as the sender moves around.
Bearing in mind that South Africa saw its biggest data breach with over 30 million citizens affected, we ask, how safe is this new feature? Will it cause more harm than good?
Features Of The Future
Just two years ago, Mark Zuckerberg and his team took over the WhatsApp world. Since then, WhatsApp has become more of a digital realm, rather than purely a communication platform, as it was initially intended to be.
With over 1 billion daily users, WhatsApp has definitely become the communication platform of choice. It is however, starting to resemble many of its compatriot channels such as Facebook and SnapChat.
Both Facebook and Snapchat have already jumped on the live location sharing band wagon earlier this year.
The live location sharing that WhatsApp offers, provides users with the opportunity to share their location with either one contact or an entire group.
There is also a ‘duration setting’ that allows users to choose how long they want to share their location. The following time allocations are free for users to choose:
- 15 minutes;
- 1 hour;
- 8 hours.
You can however, terminate the sharing at any stage once the location has been shared.
Convenience Vs. Safety
According to WhatsApp, this is an end-to-end encryption, meaning that it would be virtually impossible for someone to hack the location between the sender and the receiver.
The communication giant believes that this feature will assist parents who want to track their children when they are out on the town. But is this app now becoming a ‘snooping’ app, rather than purely for communication?
According to the University of Stellenbosch’s Computer Science senior lecturer, Steve Kroon, people are choosing convince over safety.
“We are putting more and more of our lives onto our mobile devices. This is very convenient, when those mobile devices are in our hands, but it poses a risk when those devices fall out of our hands and into the hands of someone else,” explains Kroon.
So How Safe Are You?
Although Kroon believes that it could be potentially dangerous if someone were to get hold of your phone, the feature could still come in great use. He adds that it would be quite difficult for someone to track your location if the app provides it in an encrypted version.
“In general if something is encrypted end to end, then someone intercepting the message is only going to get the encrypted version, so they would not be able to extract information from there.“
Kroon explains that privacy should not be the worry, but rather the sharing of locations with people indefinitely without knowing.
He goes on to add that you should make sure that you know how use this feature.
The live location sharing could potentially save your life if you make use of it correctly.
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