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Be Wary of Location-Based Games

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Yesterday Dr Jon Buscall spoke to a group of students, teachers and parents about surviving social media.

As he is going to give the talk again just after Easter he's not making his slides available; however, there is one thing you need to be careful of immediately: Location-Based Services.

Foursquare

If you haven't heard of Foursquare yet, you soon will have as it fast approaches a million users. Like its competitor Gowalla, it's a location-based social networking game that is played on mobile devices.

Users "check-in" at venues using text messaging or a device specific application. They are then awarded points and "badges."

The great thing about Foursquare is that when you check-in to specific locations, businesses are starting to target users with special offers. It can also be a great way of hooking up with friends and family. You can also learn more about locations such as stores, restaurants, cafés, etc, by reading the tips or comments left by people who have already checked-in.

The trouble with the likes of Foursquare and Gowalla is that if you are not careful you can reveal your specific location to anyone. For example, on the iPhone Foursquare encourages you to tell your friends on Twitter (i.e. the world!) exactly where you are.

By revealing your location online you may be putting your home or personal safety at risk. This issue was raised by Please Rob Me.com

Please be aware of privacy settings on location-based games and services so you can control the reach your messages have. If you allow your messages to travel between different social networks –say, from Foursquare to Twitter– the information could be misused by others.

As a rule of thumb, don't share your location with anyone except "genuine" friends and don't take risks.

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