The role of location in digital life is changing as growing numbers of internet users are adding a new layer of location information to their posts, and a majority of smartphone owners use their phones' location-based services.
A new report (http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Location.aspx) by the
* Many people use their smartphones to navigate the world: 74% of adult smartphone owners ages 18 and older say they use their phone to get directions or other information based on their current location.
* There is notable growth in the number of social media users who are now setting their accounts to include location in their posts: Among adult social media users ages 18 and older, 30% say that at least one of their accounts is currently set up to include their location in their posts, up from 14% who said they had ever done this in 2011 (http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Location.aspx).
* There is a modest drop in the number of smartphone owners who use "check in" location services: Some 12% of adult smartphone owners say they use a geosocial service to "check in" to certain locations or share their location with friends, down from 18% in early 2012 (http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Location-based-services.aspx). Among these geosocial service users, 39% say they check into places on Facebook, 18% say they use Foursquare, and 14% say they use Google Plus, among other services.
Taken together, these trends show the ascent of location awareness and the role it might play in the life of users--and the technology companies that are scrambling to provide more alert-style applications that tell people who and what is near them.
Local is a bigger part of the broader social media landscape, and the rise of local services is strongly tied to the increase in smartphone ownership (file:///Shared/Internet/Kathryn/0%20Location-based%20services%202013/pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Smartphone-Ownership-2013.aspx). The majority of smartphone owners say they are making use of their phones' location-based services, and the share of all adults who do this continues to grow along with increasing smartphone adoption.
"The location layer is a core aspect of the smartphone experience, one that brings a new dimension to how people find and share information on the go," said
Yet even as most smartphone owners use their phones abilities to get location-specific information, data from earlier surveys also shows that mobile users of all ages say they have turned off location-tracking features at some point due to privacy concerns:
* As of
* As of
"Perhaps unsurprisingly, our research has shown that location is considered to be sensitive information (http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Anonymity-online/Main-Report/Part-4.aspx)," Zickuhr said. "So even though most smartphone owners use their phone's location-tracking feature for information, many also disable that feature at various times to prevent third parties from accessing that same information."
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