Aran Khanna, student at Harvard in computer science and mathematics, has recently developed an extension for Chrome that allows users to find out creepily precise location of people using the Facebook Messenger app.
The extension dubbed as Mauraders Map received its name from the Harry Potter universe, where a magical map can show the identity, location and movement of anyone in Hogwarts.
We’ve grown so used to seeing the location feature appear in both iOS and Android mobile app that it passes unnoticed too many times. But maybe it’s time we started acknowledging its presence again, as it appears that it is possible to use GPS and track one’s latitude and longitude coordinates, as this app does.
If you aren’t creeped out by now, listen to this: according to Khanna, these coordinates pin-point with the accuracy of a staggering five decimal places – in other words, you can identify both the college dormitory your friend sleeps and his room number.
Khanna’s app allows a person to see another user’s location back to the first line of messages sent in a conversation – you don’t even have to be Facebook friends; it’s enough to have been added in the same messaging thread, and voilà!
A lot of people across all mobile interfaces have been rather surprised to hear what Khanna had to say, shocked that Facebook makes it so easy for their friends (and sometimes complete strangers!) to receive so much personal information about themselves.
The extension was first developed on Mapbox, one of the well-known mapping platforms, but it became so popular ever since the Next Web has discovered it that its API (application program interface) key has been since revoked.
Faced with these privacy issues, Facebook commented that it is working on a way to disable the tracking possibilities via the location feature. In the last years, several privacy incidents (remember the Edward Snowden scandal?) have brought the public’s attention onto the issue of personal privacy.
International intelligence agencies have been under severe scrutiny, accused of shamelessly snooping on people; in the US, the NSA’s massive collection of phone information is on the path of being outlawed, and other surveillance laws are underway.
Image Source: AnalogIndex