A new study by Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) reveals that social networking sites may have been compromising the location of their mobile users.
According to the study all of the 20 sites researched, including 13 mobile social networks, such as Flickr, Foursquare, Gowalla and Urbanspoon, as well as the more conventional Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace,Twitter, leaked user location information to third parties when accessed via mobile devices.
The research found that only two of the sites were found to share location information directly. Most of the other sites made use of a third-party map service to show the location.
People accessing social networks via mobile devices are in danger of unknowingly sharing their geographical location with third party partners of social network companies.
WPI researchers noted in the report: “The combination of location information, unique identifiers of devices, and traditional leakage of other personally identifiable information all conspire against protection of users' privacy."