WIRED | 7/19/2019 | Paris Martineau
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A new app knows what your Instagram-loving friends did last summer. Called Who’s in Town, the iOS and Android app is ostensibly designed to show you, well … who’s in town. But it does much more than that.

Users who download the app and grant it access to their Instagram account are presented with an eerie interactive map of every place the people they follow have visited and shared online since they created their profile. The map updates in real time and is sourced from the wealth of location data the average Instagram user willingly uploads to the platform each time they opt to use its popular geotag feature in a story or post.

Information - Instagram - Users - Share - Followers

This information is nominally public already, as Instagram users must choose to share it with their followers. But by collecting them all in one place over time, Who’s in Town transforms data points that are seemingly meaningless in isolation, into a comprehensive chronology of the habits and haunts of anyone with a public Instagram account.

It can tell you what coffeeshops or restaurants your Instagram-using friends frequent, when they last told the digital world they were there, and paint a detailed picture that wouldn’t be evident from just looking at their profile.

Amount - Data - Erick - Barto - App

“The amount of data is insane,” said Erick Barto, the app’s creator. “It's the equivalent of you going through every single story and writing down every single location, just consistently all the time.”

Paris Martineau covers platforms, online influence, and social media manipulation for WIRED.

Pre-release - Study - Who - Town - Habits

A pre-release study he conducted using Who’s in Town tracked the posting habits of over 15,000 active Instagram users over multiple weeks. Barto said it found that 30 percent of people who post Instagram stories over the weekend geotag at least one location.

“This capability is problematic ... from a privacy perspective as long-term aggregate data...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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