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Location-based social networking (LBSN) is a service that utilizes location information to facilitate social networking. LBSN applications allow users to view the locations of their “friends.” They also may allow users to view information about other users of LBSN applications that are located in proximity. Users invite their friends to participate in LBSN. A process of consent follows in which users provide permission for their location information to be viewed to varying levels of detail depending on their chosen settings. The manner in which LBSN applications work is illustrated simplistically in Fig. 1, although variations to this model exist. LBSN applications such as Loopt, Fire Eagle, Navizon, iPoki, Locago, ZinTin, iFob, WhosHere, and Google Latitude enhance a users ability to perform overt or covert social surveillance. These applications enable users to view and share real-time location information with their family and friends. With the emergence of this technology it is crucial to consider, as suggested by Kling , that “technology alone, even good technology alone is not sufficient to create social or economic value.” Further to not contributing “sufficient” economic or social value, Kling and other scholars, such as Kraut et al. , have identified that technologies can have negative impacts on society.
Date of Publication: Summer 2012