Your phone always knows where you are, and while there are plenty of benefits to that, it's not necessarily a good thing. Who can see that data? Pretty much any app you give permission to; and they can see it a lot. According to a recent study from Carnegie Mellon University, many popular apps collect your device location as often as every three minutes. In other words, Groupon is literally tracking your every move.
Sometimes having your device location data turned on is useful and convenient, if a minor (-ish) invasion of your privacy. For example, when you're using the Google Maps app to figure out where you are, it's nice if your phone actually knows where you are. But unless you're using a maps or navigation app, does your phone really need to know where you are, where you've been, and where you're going? Not really.
Didn't know you could turn off your phone's location settings? Open up Settingsand scroll down to Personal. Next to Location, you'll see a toggle switch that will turn your phone's location reporting on or off. You can also go into the Location menu to check out (or erase) your Google Location History.
Here are some times when you might want to use this feature.
When you call in sick from work
I'm not above calling in sick from work when I'm not actually sick, but smartphones make it more difficult to keep up the charade. If you take a sick day to go shopping or watch the game, make sure you turn off your location data before you post anything to social media – the last thing you need is for your Tweets about how totally sick you are to be inadvertently tagged "AT&T Park."
When you're lying about being out of town
"Hey Sarah, wanna grab lunch this week?"
"Oh, man, I can't, I'm totally in Las Vegas right now!"
"Really? But you just posted a status update on Facebook tagged 'Los Angeles.'"
"Uh, I meant, I'm driving to Las Vegas right now. Yeah."
When you're posting a gym selfie
Just because the McDonald's next to the 24 Hour Fitness still technically places you at the gym on your Google Location History map doesn't mean you shouldn't feel bad about posting gym selfies while scarfing down a cheeseburger.
When you want to shop in peace
A few weeks ago, I signed up for Target's Cartwheel app, and now, whenever I get within 50 feet of a Target store, I get a bunch of annoying pop-ups about how much I can save on cleaning supplies.
When you're on vacation
When you go on vacation, do you leave a sign on your door alerting would-be thieves to the presence of an empty house? No, you don't, because that would be stupid. But is it much smarter to be posting a bunch of photos tagged "Bora Bora," when your house is all alone in San Francisco?
When you're trying to ditch someone you met on Tinder
"HEY I SAW YOU LOGGED INTO TINDER THE OTHER DAY AND YOU'RE STILL WITHIN 50 MILES OF MY LOCATION WHAT'S UP WITH THAT????"
When you're trying to make yourself look like you have a life
"I'm totally on vacation in Europe right now."
"Uh, we can see that you posted that selfie from your bathroom. And that you're one of those people who gives their own house a cutesy Facebook check-in name."
When you're trying to craft an alibi
Doesn't matter if that alibi is for the police, your parents, your significant other...Google's Location History map will definitely mess with your credibility.
When you're lying about being late
We've all told that "I'm in the car right now" lie, but remember: your social media accounts may be set up to automatically record your location. In which case, posting "Stuck in traffic!" to Twitter while you're checking in to the local Starbucks could backfire.
When you want to avoid people
There are plenty of apps out there that are handy, and can even save your life, because they're designed to let friends and family know where you are. But sometimes you just want to be alone, you know? And that's kind of difficult when your buddies can find your exact location just by opening up an app.