On Privacy and Permission

On May 27, 2014, Posted by , In General, By , , With No Comments

Much is being said about “finding nearby friends” these days. It was the rage (and then it wasn’t, until it was again) with Foursquare. Facebook has toyed with it and jumped in recently. Two things come to mind about this though… first, it’s all well and good to find people you already know who are nearby. Assuming of course they don’t mind you dropping in on whatever they have going on.54_Lock-(alt)

Second, and more importantly, is that in order to make the connections, these platforms (and others) aggregate your location data. They know where you are and, as has been proven so many times, are not afraid to use that information for their own gain _without_ necessarily alerting you (except when that advertisement comes through).

MiitWell is different on both fronts.

To begin with, the app is focused on helping you meet people you *don’t* already know, but probably should.

It’s true that this attribute by itself does not preclude using “big data” or overlapping social networks or trained wombats to both make the connection and make us a profit, but the reality is that specifically *because* of privacy concerns, many people game the system: they “check in” as they’re leaving or into a nearby establishment instead of the one they’re actually at, they highly restrict who can see where they are, etc. It’s hard enough to rely on that info being accurate when you _are_ friends with the person; when you’re not, the experience (and expected accuracy) go downhill fast.

55_Lock-Open-(alt)Second, this association is done by you, locally on your device, not on a faceless server somewhere.

It’s dynamic. The control is in the palm of your hand, literally (unless you’re on an iPad, in which case it’s figurative unless you have _really_ big palms, or you’re one of those people who lay their iPhone/iPod Touch on a tabletop to use it). You can set up multiple profiles with the information you choose and share (or stop sharing) each profile at the tap of an icon. When you do turn on a profile? You’re sharing to the people in the room around you, not to the internet. The profiles themselves? They’re stored on your device (not a server) so delete, edit, create. You hold the control.

There’s nothing wrong _per se_ with using big, remote networks to find certain people or keep up on the latest happenings. Still, isn’t it nice to know that there’s an option that doesn’t require giving up so much control while re-humanizing the ability to “look up” and meet more interesting people who are (sometimes literally) right in front of your face?

-brad

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