Surprise! The beer-rating app Untappd can be used to track the location history of military personnel. The social network has over eight million mostly European and North American users, and its features allow researchers to uncover sensitive information about said users at military and intelligence locations around the world.
For people in the military, neither drinking beer nor using social media is newsworthy on its own. But Untappd users log hundreds, often thousands of time-stamped location data points. These locations are neatly sorted in over 900 categories, which can be as diverse and specific as “botanic garden.” “strip club,” “gay bar,” “west-Ukrainian restaurant,” and “airport gate.” As the result of this, the app allows anyone to trace the movements of other users between sensitive locations — as well as their favorite bars, hotels, restaurants, neighbourhoods, and, sometimes, even private residences.
Examples of users that can be tracked this way include a U.S. drone pilot, along with a list of both domestic and overseas military bases he has visited, a naval officer, who checked in at the beach next to Guantanamo’s bay detention center as well as several times at the Pentagon, and a senior intelligence officer with over seven thousand check-ins, domestic and abroad. Senior officials at the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force are included as well.
Cross-referencing these check-ins with other social media makes it easy to find these individuals’ homes. Their profiles and the pictures they post also reveal family, friends, and colleagues.
There's more at the link.
The article goes on to reveal the location of the CIA training base known as "The Farm", based on Untappd data. I daresay the CIA isn't terribly happy about that.
This sort of thing must be an ongoing nightmare for security specialists. Russia has gone so far as to ban the possession (let alone the use) of smartphones by its military personnel assigned to locations such as the Ukrainian separatist "states", Syria, etc. Needless to say, such prohibition is honored more in the breach than in the observance, which is how many photographs taken in those areas have been circulated in the West. The US armed forces have imposed similar (although less draconian) restrictions, and have faced similar problems. Remember how a fitness tracking app revealed the locations of otherwise secret US bases, a few years ago?
How many more such tell-tale apps are out there, in how many countries? One suspects that US intelligence services may by now have a specialist division checking such data in every nation around the world, to see what intelligence might be gleaned from them. I'm willing to bet China and Russia, and probably Israel, are doing likewise.