WhatsApp Live Location Enables Real-Time Location Tracking

But the tracking feature has already raised concerns over safety and privacy

Instant messaging service WhatsApp has revealed a location-sharing service that allow users to track each other in real-time. 

While the Facebook-owned app has previously allowed people to share their loaction with other WhatsApp users, it was a one-off static shared location; the new feature is more of a tracker. 

Working on Android and iOS version of the app, users can share their real-time location with individuals and groups of fellow users. 

“Whether you’re meeting up with friends, letting loved ones know you’re safe, or sharing your commute, Live Location is a simple and secure way to let people know where you are,” WhatsApp said. 

Naturally, the idea of any form of direct and real-time tracking raises concerns over privacy and the potential for enabling stalkers or for companies to track their employees in and outside of working hours, effectively paving the way for a Big Brother society. 

However, WhatsApp noted the Live Location feature is encrypted and allows users to set a time limit on how long their real-time location is shred for with another user. And each users has to choose to share their location. 

Protecting privacy 

Even so, the Live Location feature has prompted concerns from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), which notes the location tracking is potentially puts children at risk. 

“We know tech companies are constantly developing their platforms and we’d encourage them to provide signposted information for parents and young people, so they know how to keep themselves safe,” said the NSPCC’s Rose Bray.

“Parents could be given a bit of warning, so they can look up the information before the new feature launches, and have a conversation with their child.”

However, WhatsApp is not alone in offering location sharing services, with the likes of Google Maps, Apple’s iMessage, and Telegram offering similar features. 

Facebook has yet to develop a concrete plan to make money from WhatsApp but if it could harvest real-time user location data in a fashion that does not reveal the personal details of its usersm it could use that information for advertising purposes or sell to third-parties for marketing and promotional use. 

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