Services like Foursquare and Gowalla allow you to tell your friends, family, and social networks where you are at any given time. These services are a marketer’s dream come true. Basically, you are giving them tons of information about your habits and preferences and it feels like it’s just a game. But marketers aren’t the only ones looking and mining that data.
I really like social media. In fact, I use Foursquare. So don’t mistake me for a social media fear-monger when I say that Foursquare leads to increased insurance rates. Specifically, geo-location apps and tagging (like on Twitter) leads to increased home insurance rates.
Rising insurance rates are a logical outcome if you stop and think about it for a moment. Sites like PleaseRobMe.com (now shut down) claimed to be raising awareness about this issue, but really they were just adding to it by aggregating tweets of people broadcasting that they weren’t home. The problem is that robbers and fiends check social networks for folks saying, “I’m not home.” Now you may not literally say that, but checking-in through Gowalla or Foursquare says the same thing. Or even just telling everyone on Facebook that you are leaving on vacation is screaming, “I’m not home!”
As crime levels increase, the insurance companies have to adjust their actuarial tables in order to cover the increase in claims. And since they have profit margins to protect, we as customers have to pay more. Don’t believe me? Well, I’m not the first one to talk about this. In fact, the British Association of Insurers believes that insurance rates will increase by as much as 10% as a direct result. You can read more about that report at Media Post.
Social networks are addicting, I know. Adding rewards and badges creates a game-like atmosphere. Someone who checks-in (or says, “I’m at this location”) more than anyone else becomes mayor of that location. I recently lost the mayorship at work to a contractor, which is slightly embarrassing. But I digress.
Now, just in case I’m not being clear enough, let me use some stick figure drawings to get the point across.
See my point? So before you announce your every movement to the world (FYI, I don’t care that you left your desk to use the restroom), consider who else is seeing that information. Sites like Twitter are public and searchable by anybody. Sites like Facebook allow some level of privacy. So check your privacy settings and be careful about what you share.
The point is folks, don’t be stupid. Just because something is cool and fun doesn’t mean it’s any good for you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m trying to regain mayorship here at work and need to check-in.
(Want to share the graphic? Just copy and paste the code from below.)