Is Your Phone Stalking You?

There’s a hidden feature in your iPhone that knows where you are. And it’s keeping track of you moment-by-moment. This thing’s real—we’re not just making up a tantalizing headline.

Many people are unaware it exists, and when told, think it’s feels a bit like being cyber-stalked.

The locations-collecting culprit is a setting buried deep down in the iPhone. It’s called Frequent Locations. Android phones have something similar, called Location History. It actually plots on a map everywhere you’ve been and how often and how long you’ve been there.

Why’s it there?
Frequent Locations was developed to help consumers better understand things like how long it’s going to take to get to work. And what the weather might be like when you get there. Apple claims that it was created “to provide you with personalized services…to help you find nearby coffee shops or theaters.” And that “…the data is kept solely on your device and won’t be sent to Apple without your consent.”

The other thing, though
Frequent Locations is kind of a cool feature—but it’s also kind of troubling. Think of these scenarios:

A jealous spouse, or even a private detective—with access to your phone gets all the detailed information about where you’ve been.

Someone who steals or finds your lost phone will be able know when you’re not in your house, then use it to find your address—before going there to rob you blind.

How to shut it off
You can change your phone’s settings to keep it from accumulating a digital record of all of your movements. In order to access the map, go to the Settings menu, then Privacy. From there, go to Location Services, find System Services and scroll down to find Frequent Locations. You can use a switch there to turn it off.

However, beware in the future— if your phone downloads a software update, as some users have found this can reverse the switch back to the automatic ON position.

References: Business Insider Inc., WUSA-TV, Apple Inc.