Tag Archives: privacy

iPhone and Android are tracking your locations: How, where and what to do about it

Kids smartphones settings privacy location

Creative Commons license by Geração conectada

It’s hard enough to teach our kids safe, responsible use of the digital technologies we understand without worrying about all the stuff we don’t know. For example, did you realize that your (or your kids’) iPhone or Android device is tracking and recording all the locations you visit?

I had no idea. And it’s safe to say that most kids and parents don’t know about this either, since the setting is buried layers deep.

What does this mean? Anyone with access to your kids’ iPhone or Android device can view and map the places they visit frequently, the dates and times they were there. Their home. Their school. Their friends’ houses, favourite hangouts, the hockey arena, soccer pitch or dance studio where they go every week.

Apple, which included this feature in their iOS 7.0 update, insists this information isn’t stored anywhere on the cloud, so it’s totally safe. Unless, of course, someone gets hold of your phone and manages to access your data.It’s also unclear how this data is used when you access apps with location services, such as requesting a map with roads near you.

If you have an Android device it’s even worse, because this data is recorded through your Google account, accessible by hackers on any device. They don’t need your kid’s phone to hack into this information.

One of the challenges in keeping ourselves – and our kids – safe in a digital era is understanding the many ways data is collected about our activities. This is a worthwhile conversation to have with your kids – get them involved in adjusting the settings, so they understand why it’s important to manage personal data.

How do I change the settings? Changing the settings isn’t hard, but it ca be confusing, because it is buried layers deep. The step-by-step instructions for iPhone are listed below with screenshots.

How will this affect my use of the phone and apps? Not at all. You can still access Google Maps, Yelp and any other location-based app as long as location services are enabled.

Step 1: Go to Settings and click on Privacy.

iPhone settings safety location privacy








Step 2: Click on Location Services

iPhone privacy settings kids








Step 3: Click on System Services – you may need to scroll down to the bottom of a long list of apps.

iPhone location services settings kids








Step 4: Select Frequent Locations click to turn it off.

iPhone Frequent Locations settings kids








Step 6: You can click on any of the items in the list to see specific locations mapped with details of dates and times.

iPhone My Locations settings kids








Have an Android device? Follow the step-by-step instructions in this video to disable the settings, or follow the screenshots at the bottom of this page at Today.com.



What Facebook’s new Graph Search option means for parents and kids

Facebook graph searchFriends who Like Justin Bieber. Photos of my friends before 2000 taken by my mom. Photos taken in New York City.

These are some of the search options currently available in the newly launched Facebook graph search tool. For the moment, it’s only in beta (or test) mode, only available in the U.S. to a few selected invitees. And the search options are still limited.

But make no mistake, this is a very big deal when it comes to privacy, access to information and the convergence of social networks. Simply put, it means that all of the personal information we (and our kids) put online can now be quickly and easily indexed and searched by others.

Facebook is the largest voluntary sociological experiment in the history of humankind. Users everywhere think little of sharing intimate details of our lives, our relationships, our preferences and our consumer behaviours. And while Facebook gives us our accounts for free, make no mistake that they anticipate making vast revenues off this freely shared information through advertising and other forms of data mining.

If you or your kids are Facebook users, consider whether you use your Facebook sign-in information to link to any other accounts: TripAdvisor, group coupon buying sites like Groupon or Living Social, Twitter, Netflix, Pinterest, Goodreads or Instagram. Have you linked your Facebook to your LinkedIn account? A blogging website? Web strategist Jeremiah Owyang has predicted that this interactive convergence between websites is the future of website design, so we are bound to see more and more of it.

What do these linkages mean for you and your kids? It means that when you log in to TripAdvisor, your home page is customized to reflect the data your Facebook friends entered. Bob loved this hotel in Ireland. Emily rated this restaurant in Washington, D.C. When you log in to Netflix, you can see which TV shows they watched; on Goodreads you can see what books they’ve read.  These sites are all connected, and they personalize what you see based on your contacts.

When it comes to helping ourselves and our kids make wise decisions about what they share online, it means we need to be even more aware about what we’ve chosen to out there. And it doesn’t just start now: the photos you uploaded back in 2006 when you first joined are still there.

Although it’s still not yet clear exactly how this will impact users, here are a few things you will want to consider:

  • Search categories on Graph Search are still somewhat limited, but others (including Instagram) are due to be added over time. Keep an eye out for what becomes searchable, so you can discuss those things with your kids.
  • It’s more important than ever to make sure your kids’ privacy settings are set to the highest level, so that “Only friends” or “Only me” are chosen for distribution of information. It’s still not clear how this new Graph Search tool will be impacted by user settings, but it makes good sense to err on the side of caution.
  • Be aware of the App permissions in your privacy settings. You should help your teen choose what apps have permission to share information with others – perhaps they don’t want others to know what they are watching on Netflix, playing on different games or reading.
  • Discuss with your kids why they might not always want to use the “Sign in with Facebook” or “Sign in with Twitter” options when opening a new account. Do they really want all that information connected?
  • Some of your information may show up in searches from people you don’t know. In this Mashable post, the user searched for photos of Paris, France and found images from those they didn’t know. 
  • Be aware of information within your information, sometimes called metadata. Pictures you and your kids take with smartphone cameras tends to record the geographical location where the image was snapped (the GPS data). Some new digital cameras come with this option as well. Although you might not even see it or know it’s there, others can use a simple tool to figure out where your kids go to school, live and hang out with friends. See this post here for more information and explanations on how to easily change the GPS settings on your phones.  
  • The more information your kids’ friends share on Facebook, the more there is to be included in search criteria about them as well. It’s more important than ever to make sure they set up accounts so that they can approve all picture tags or mentions that might appear on their timeline (click here to see how). For example, if someone posts a picture with me in it, but doesn’t tag me, I won’t be part of the search criteria for that image. But if I am tagged, I want the right to approve or disallow what’s out there with my name in it.
  • If you want a clear picture of what you or your kids have shared on Facebook already, you can download a version of all this data. Check out this post for instructions on how to do so.


Glitch on Facebook means your old direct messages and posts to friends may be visible to all


Imagine if some of your direct messages suddenly were made publicly visible to all? The potential for friendship disaster may be very high, especially in the high drama world of middle and high schoolers.

The tech blog TechCrunch has just revealed that this seems to be the case. Posts made in years past to individual friends, and in some cases direct messages, may be revealed in past years on your timeline.

How can you fix it? Easy enough.

  1. Click on your name in the upper right hand corner to view your timeline.
  2. Click on past years (one at a time). It will open up a box (see image) listing all the individual posts you made to others. Hover over the upper right hand corner so that a little pencil icon appears. Choose “Hide posts from timeline.”
  3. Repeat this for each year.
  4. No go help your kids do the same on their timelines.
This is a powerful reminder that we need to be scrupulously careful about the things we post online, even in a supposedly private context like a direct message. As soon as we put it in writing and release it into the ether, we lose control.