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Officials warn of off-duty use of location-based services

SALT LAKE CITY -- Do you use Foursquare on your iPhone? Do you constantly update your Facebook status to let everyone know where you are at all times?  If so, you may be making yourself vulnerable to individuals who are interested in collecting information on military members.

In a recent announcement on the Air Force Portal, it explains that "all Airmen must understand the implications of using location-based services. These services allow individuals with a smartphone to easily tell their friends their location. Services such as Facebook's "Check-in", Foursquare, Gowalla, and Loopt are becoming very popular in the social networking world, especially among young adults. Foursquare advertises that 'it is a friend-finder, a social city guide and a game that challenges users to experience new things, and rewards them.'" The service enables users to check in to local restaurants, bars, stores, etc., and offers discounts, free stuff, etc., for doing so.

While location-based services have social and economic rewards, careless use by Airmen can have devastating operations security and privacy implications. These services make it possible to track and monitor groups of individuals. By analyzing location trends, it will be easy to predict the time and location an individual will be located. When correlated with other types of data already collected or made available on the Web (browsing habits, etc.), it is possible to create a more accurate profile of an individual. All Airmen should guard their privacy and ensure they apply appropriate operations security practices in order to protect themselves, their families, and the Air Force mission.