If you track me, will we still trust each other?

Key Link


Kathy PretzIEEE Institute
Katina MichaelUniversity of Wollongong


Want to know whether friends, relatives, or coworkers are nearby? You might no longer have to wonder. If they’ve signed up with one of more than 100 location-based social networks (LBSNs) or apps, including Facebook, Footprints, Foursquare, Latitude, and WhosHere, you can track them down. The services require users to give permission to display their whereabouts to others.

But what are the implications of such surveillance tools? In particular, what effect do they have on trust in relationships? Several IEEE members from the University of Wollongong, in Australia, wanted to find out. Their paper, “Location-Based Social Networking: Impact on Trust in Relationships,” which appeared in the summer issue of IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, explains how they discovered that tracking technology might come with a cost. They determined that tracking can cause mistrust, exacerbate already strained relationships, and discourage people from taking each other at their word.

Suggested Citation

Kathy Pretz and Katina Michael. "If you track me, will we still trust each other?" IEEE Institute Nov. 2012.