Application security, Compliance Management, Privacy

Facebook Live Location service raises privacy, safety concerns

Cybersecurity experts are questioning whether Facebook's addition of Live Location to its Messenger texting app will pose a privacy issue for its users.

Live Location enables to Messenger users to share their location in order to make getting together easier. Essentially, when turned on a map appears showing the individual's location and an estimated time of arrival to a particular point.  The location “share” can last for 60 minutes or be turned off at any time, Facebook said.

However, while most likely a useful app it does open up users to potential harm from both a cyber and a physical standpoint. There is also the point that any geolocation information inputted also may be used by Facebook.

 “Users need to remember that everything they type and share on Messenger is recorded and may be used by Facebook or stolen by hackers, especially geolocation data. Facebook will use this information for activity profiling, sending ads, and possibly to sell this data to third parties,” said Nimrod Vax, Co-founder of BigID.

George Avetisov, CEO of the biometric security firm HYPR, pointed out that there are privacy concerns for both individuals and corporations.

“For one, opting in informs Facebook where you are, because you're giving it access to your location. Acquaintances — imagine a coworker who sees you at a competitor's office — also could be accidentally informed where you are at times when you may not want them knowing. A 60-minute live location session presents a fairly broad picture of your workday,” he told SC Media.

On a positive note the fact that Live Location is an official Facebook product should mean that the proper privacy settings and cybersecurity measures are in place.

“Many third-party social network integration apps have this functionality, such as video games, restaurant locators, and dating apps. However, since this appears to be an official Facebook app, there will most likely be privacy settings available,” said Alex Heid, chief research officer for SecurityScorecard.

With that said Heid added, any Messenger users should make sure to read and fully understand the privacy policy and settings before enabling the app.

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