//PICTURED ABOVE: Life360 is a popular location tracking service that is often used by friends and family.
As easily as downloading an app and requesting location, virtually anyone can have access to another’s location. Life 360, Find my Friends and Snapchat are platforms used to readily track the location of friends or family.
Life 360, a family networking app, is a location-based service designed to allow primarily family or friends to access each other’s location. On the app, users can join multiple “circles” to connect with groups of people.
Emilia Callahan, a junior, shares a Life360 circle with her parents so that they know her location.
“Sometimes my parents get very picky if I am somewhere and I did not tell them,” Callahan said. “It causes a lot of hassle because I have to plan out my whole night exactly before I go, and if I stray from the plan there are consequences.”
The app has three plans including the basic, free version; Life360 Plus; and Life360 Driver Protect. In all three plans, the app can track real-time location, access users’ driving speed and monitor phone battery. The upgraded versions include additions such as location history and provide notifications about speeding and when a driver presses hard on the brake.
Callahan’s circle uses the Life360 Driver Protect.
“The fact that my parents will get a notification if I pick up my phone while driving or take off quickly definitely makes me a better driver,” Callahan said, “but it sometimes creates unnecessary issues or tension because I am nervous they are going to get mad.”
The Find My Friends location tracking service, developed by Apple, has fewer features than Life360, but easily shares locations via iMessage when using an Apple product. Senior Isabella Akhtar uses the app to determine her friends’ locations.
“I like to see where my friends are if they’re picking me up,” Akhtar said. “ It allows them not to text me, ensuring saver driving.”
Finally, Snapchat released “Snap Map,” which shows one’s location through the map feature on the app. Snap Map is opt-in, and users who do not wish to share their location can operate in “Ghost Mode.”
The user’s location is updated every time the app is opened. Unlike Life360 and Find My Friends, Snap Map does not continuously update one’s location. Sophomore Melissa Dodson uses Snap Map only with her close friends, so not everyone is able to see her location.
“If your location is out there for all your friends to see, there’s always a chance that there’s someone who could use it for bad intentions,” Dodson said.
“When you use our services we may collect information about your location,” the policy says. “We may also collect information about your precise location using methods that include GPS, wireless networks, cell towers, Wi-Fi access points, and other sensors.”
Though Snapchat emphasizes it quickly deletes all content, it saves location information for different lengths of time. Company policy states it stores information about favorite places for up to 40 days in order to “personalize and improve your experience.”
Junior Trisha Ashish said Snap Map is not only an invasion of privacy but also a potential source of conflict.
“If you tell one person you are doing one thing, and you go do something else,” Ashish said, “it can cause drama.”
Story by Kate Clark
Photo provided by Life 360