In a quite astonishing Orwellian twist a report this week in the Telegraph suggests that Facebook are about to launch a location app which will allow you to find anyone’s location at any time. The app is ostensibly to allow people to find their friends in a local area but will even run if the programme is not open in the mobile handset. This particular app takes the current ‘check in‘ process to another level and in the eyes of some is nothing but an intrusion into your lives.
The purpose of the app is to allow location-based sales targeting which has long been the focus of many retailers. Simply look at the visionary Philip K Dick novel ‘Minority Report’, translated into the movie by Stephen Spielberg featuring Tom Cruise, Max von Sydow and Colin Farrell where Tom Cruise goes into a store and retina recognition welcomes him back and starts to offer him a new pair of Chinos. It is hard to conceive that this vision was first published in 1956 about a future date of 2054, yet technology has accelerated so quickly that we are fast approaching this right now.
With Bluetooth targeting, risc chips and barcodes on store shelves the shopping experience has already become a multi-layered and technological minefield. So where does Facebook see this going?
The firm is tight-lipped about all of this however it seems logical that they would want to use it to geo-target people, for example in a shopping mall, to then offer them exclusive discounts, via the Facebook platform, as they are in a location where a store is based. Facebook already know the buyer’s name, age, sex, preferences and a whole lot more so this would be a logical extension to offer advertisers that close contact with potential buyers. They would even be able to ascertain whether you had visited that store before and perhaps if you are a regular buyer or not. As mobile payments link with phones who’s to say that eventually this data won’t be merged into the application?
All of this is still in development and under wraps but there is a release date slated for mid-March although Facebook has declined to comment on the original report.
You can’t say we haven’t warned you.