How You Can Avoid LBS Stalkers

By Jill McFarland on JillMightKnowJack

I was so excited this year at SXSW to see how big location based services (LBS) have become and the potential for them to continue to grow. There is however still a lot of apprehension among some groups to check-in, in particular women. This post is about how you can use LBS while avoiding risks.

I was presenting at a mini-conference called Talent Net Live (TNL) during SXSW with Aaron Strout on the use of LBS for recruiting. Our moderator Craig Fisher has been pioneering the use of LBS and other social strategies for recruiting purposes. Craig urged the audience to build their LBS community the same way they would their Twitter or LinkedIn community as a recruiter, the bigger the better. The women in the audience had some apprehension around this with good reason. As a heavy user of LBS I thought it was about time to give some advice on how you can use these services without opening yourself up to stalkers or other risks.

  • You don’t have to allow have to allow others to see your check-ins. Most services have options on whether you share your location. You can still get deals and build your status without notifying others of your whereabouts.

  • When building your LBS networks services like Whrrl allow you to accept friends as ‘friends’ or as ‘trusted friends’ limiting what they can see.
  • Check in when you’re about to leave. Unless you are trying to get a deal in that moment, you don’t have to check in until you are about to leave a location.
  • Don’t check in alone. People ask me all the time if it makes me nervous to let people know where I am but I never check in if I’m alone or if I’m not in a public place where I feel safe to do so.
  • Since I’m not a recruiter, I don’t feel as much need to add everyone as a friend. I like my friend Jim Storer’s rule of only adding people he’s had a beer with. Of course I had only been friends with Jim on Twitter and Facebook until I finally met him in person at SXSW this year but would’ve felt comfortable enough to add him (he’s a fellow Red Sox fan). It’s all about using good judgment.
  • Don’t make your home a location. I often hear about people being nervous checking in and letting people know they’re not home. It would be a hell of a lot easier for a criminal to drive by your house and see that you aren’t home rather than stalk you on Foursquare, figure out your address, and race over there when you check in at McDonald’s. Again, common sense can be used here.

The benefits of LBS are continuing to grow. There have been many exciting announcements recently. Foursquare partnered with American Express, Gowalla is offering Groupon or Living Social-like rewards, Whrrl’s many interesting partnerships, and the many new location based services entering the market. I recently wrote a guest post on Aaron Strout’s blog on the motivators to use LBS, some of which may surprise you. Use good judgment and take advantage of all that LBS has to offer.

Side-note: Some credit for this post goes to Aaron Strout who helped sparked my thoughts on some of the above points, to the crowd at TNL for asking GREAT questions, and to Craig Fisher for organizing a great event.

Posted in Blog.