Why it makes sense to ‘Like’ and ‘Check-in’

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/pressureUA

For a long time I thought, as I believe many people still do, that ‘Liking’ posts or webpages (eg, Facebook‘s ‘Like’ button), and ‘checking-in’ at locations (eg Foursquare) were just for fun, an unnecessary novelty.

With the development of social discovery, and smarter algorithms used for advertising, it’s becoming apparent to me that there is in fact quite some value in ‘liking’ and ‘checking-in’.

Of course, many people will immediately shudder, raising privacy concerns, and concerns that it is time-consuming or frivolous (see also my post “Thoughts on privacy versus disclosure in today’s society“). These can be fair objections, but let’s investigate things a little further.

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‘Location’ is where it’s at – my take on location-based services.

In the retail trade they’ve long said that it’s about location, location, location. The advent of GPS, and the incorporation of GPS into affordable, handheld units (starting with car navigation units, and more recently smartphones) has meant that location tracking is now possible for individuals.

It has recently also become possible to share, or publicly broadcasting this data, via Twitter, Facebook, or other internet based platforms, with friends, or indeed, the whole world. It is of course a fair question to ask why one would want to do this.

I’ve recently started to try out Foursquare, one of the most popular location-based services, in an attempt to better understand what it’s all about. In doing so, I’ve also come up with a few thoughts about the potential for such services, beyond what seems to be being done so far.

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Thoughts on privacy versus disclosure in today’s society

It seems that the last few weeks/months a number of media stories have raised an intense discussion around public privacy and social responsibility.  Some examples include:

Such discussions, while appearing on one level to be independent, and unconnected, also appear to me, to revolve around a central theme of ‘public privacy rights and the individual’s right to choose what to disclose‘.  While the first two examples relate to high-profile individuals, the latter example, as well as similar discussions around Google’s use of internet users’ information, and other trends (such as the rapidly increasing number of bloggers), shows how the topic relates to the general public also.

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Reading the ‘small print’ online – what you are agreeing to when accepting Terms and Conditions when registering on a new website

Many websites that contain professionally edited content ask users to sign up as a registered user, either in order to be able to submit comments, or to be able to read further. In such cases one is usually only shown headlines, or introductory paragraphs prior to registration.

Such registration processes are usually used to capture certain personal information about you, communicate certain legal information (eg, terms and conditions, terms of service, terms of sale, privacy policy, etc. – hereafter “terms”) to you and protect the website owner, in particular through use of ‘indemnity’ clauses (passing financial risk from any third party claims against the website owner to the user).

It seems to me that such terms are often positioned in a way that it is very easy to check a box to say that you ‘agree to’ them, or have ‘read and understood’ them even when you might not have done (for example, in your enthusiam to get to the activties the site offers only to registered users), thereby potentially leading to a future unmanaged risk.

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