New WhatsApp Update lets you Stalk Friends in Real Time

WhatsApp update stokes kerfuffle as it lets you stalk friends

WhatsApp is introducing a new location tracking feature to allow you to instantly spy on the movements of your contacts inside the mobile app.

The feature will allow users to share their location for a limited time over an encrypted connection, and is intended to be used with family or friends.

You can also stop sharing at any time, so your phone won’t broadcasting your whereabouts without your consent – until the timer expires at least.

The feature was announced on the official WhatsApp blog and will be available for iPhone and Android by December 2017.

What else is new?

WhatsApp has recently bowed to user pressure with plans to introduce an option to edit sent messages, which will no doubt open an entirely new can of worms.

WhatsApp is owned by Facebook and is looking for ways to monetize its massive user base.

Over 1.3 billion devices have WhatsApp installed and its estimated some 6 million people in the UK use the secure messaging app.

Popular features include the option to add specific people to groups and share pictures, GIFs and notes at no cost.

WhatsApp update follows you around

The developers say the tracking update is a “simple and secure” safety feature – and is probably intended to be used by helicopter parents to track their errant children.

“Whether you’re meeting up with friends, letting loved ones know you’re safe or sharing your commute, Live Location is a simple and secure way to let people know where you are,” said WhatsApp.

“You can choose to stop sharing at any time or let the Live Location timer simply expire.”

Friends can also join in on the feature, although it’s unknown if there’s a limit to how many people can share their location at once.

“If more than one person shares their Live Location in the group, all locations will be visible on the same map.”

Is it safe or not?

Snapchat was recently criticised for introducing a location tracking system, and there are concerns about WhatsApp’s latest development.

There’s been no word from WhatsApp about age restrictions for the new feature. Parents may want to keep an eye out until any safeguards are put in place.

By:

Aran is a technology journalist with an interest in consumer issues.
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