Google Latitude: Going One Step Too Close?

google-latitude

The latest Google application makes Facebook stalking seem tame. Google Latitude is a new feature on Google Maps and a new gadget on iGoogle that allows you to share your geographical location with your friends. You can access Google Latitude on your GPS-enabled cell phone or on your iGoogle account from your computer. That’s right. As a Latitude user, you will know where your friends are, and they will be able to see where you are. This means that not only can friends meet up easier knowing they are only blocks away from each other, but parents can keep tabs on their kids and spouses will be able to monitor their better half’s whereabouts.

On one hand, Latitude is certainly an impressive Google innovation that provides extraordinary opportunities to businesses. Imagine walking down the street and receiving a text in front of your local Whole Foods Market advertising a special promotion on avocados that are on sale. Or getting word that a showing of the recently released comedy, He’s Just Not That Into You, starts in 30 minutes at the movie theater down the road. This seems like a marketing goldmine, but the concept strikes me as invasive and overwhelming.

Of course, Google Latitude is entirely voluntary. No one can follow you unless you want them to. Users must accept any request in order to be followed. Users also control as much information they wish to share, and with whom. For now, Latitude is aimed at you and your friends (watch this video to learn more). It’s only a matter of time, though, that Dunkin’ Donuts and Gap will want to follow your every move.

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