WhatsApp Live Location Tracking

Live Track your Friends with new WhatsApp Feature

To some of us this may sound a tad creepy right? Being able to track your friends actual ‘Live Location’ on WhatsApp.

Whatsapp with now more than 1.3 billion monthly active users, (remember it’s owned by Facebook) is rolling out a new feature that will let you track one another in real time.

Think about it. You’ll no longer be able to use classic excuses like ‘Stuck in Traffic’ or for those of us in the country, ‘Sorry so late, flippin tractors!’.

It’s worth pointing out that WhatsApp have been Beta testing this feature since February, according to Tech Crunch.

You can also share you location via WhatsApp – but that’s a static, one-time share and not live or real time.

According to a recent blog by WhatsApp, ‘Live Location is a simple and secure way to let people know where you are’. They elaborated with ‘this end-to-end encrypted feature lets you control who you share with and for how long’.

How does it work WhatsApp Live Location Tracking Work

The ‘Live Location’ feature is available for both iOS and Android users. To share your live location with a contact or group on WhatsApp all users need to do is:

  • Open a chat with the person or group you want to share with.
  • On iOS tap on the + on Android tap on the paperclip
  • Tap on location
  • You will see 2 options: Share your Live Location or Send your Current Location
  • Tap on Live Location. You’ll receive a onscreen prompt: ‘Participants in this chat will see your location in real-time. This feature shares your location for the duration even if you’re not using the app. You can stop sharing at any time’.
  • Once enabled and you’re sharing your location you can choose how long you want it to be active for: 15 Minutes, 1 Hour or 8 Hours
  • Live location shares will show up in WhatsApp chats as thumbnails displaying the location of the user along with the message sent.
  • If you Tap ‘View live location’ you will see a map view where you can see the current location of all the users who are presently sharing their location in that chat.

WhatsApp have included an option, in which you can ‘Stop Sharing’ your location at any time this will show up on the other users end or group chat as Live Location Ended.

What are the risks?

Potentially – stalking, threatening, bullying, unwelcome visitors, opportunistic adults, relationship control, vulnerable children and young people revealing their locations, not to mention adults this could be especially the case if you are sharing your live location within a WhatsApp group chat.

Is WhatsApp the only message app to offer a feature like this?

No. A number of other messaging apps such as Telegram and even Apples iMessage allow user to share their location. You might also remember my previous blog post and video on Snapchat Maps, which again allows users to share their location when using Snapchat.

Lastly..

I’m going to reiterate the advice from recommended sources when Snapchat Maps came out. The NSPCC were concerned that features allowed ‘under 18s to broadcast their location.. where it can potentially be accessed by everyone in their contact lists’ and Police here in Ireland and in the UK reported problems with location sharing. I would agree and would recommend parents and guardians to keep an eye on this, advise their children not to share their location. Remind them that this would give strangers a very good indication of where they spend their time and there’s just no need to.

Children and young people will have fun with these features but it’s important to be aware of the risks also. Their idea of privacy may be different to their parents in this ever more connected world. At the moment there’s still little regulation with apps despite the obvious threats to children and young people’s safety. So it’s crucial that our generation of adults has at least an understanding of messaging, video and live streaming apps, and the risks posed to children and teenagers.

Take care online & remember to share this blog to help others find it

Wayne

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