Few US smartphone users share whereabouts

WASHINGTON - Most United States smartphone owners use their device's location service for directions or other purposes. Only a small percentage share their location with friends and others, according to a recent survey.

The Pew Research Center's Internet Project survey found that 74 per cent of adult smartphone owners use their phone to get directions or other information based on their location.

Among social-media users aged 18 and older, 30 per cent said that at least one of their accounts is set up to include their location in their posts, up from 14 per cent who said they had done this in 2011.

The survey found a small drop in the number of smartphone owners who use "check in" location services: Around 12 per cent of adult smartphone owners said they use a geosocial service to "check in" to certain locations or share their location with friends, down from 18 per cent early last year.

Among those who check in with their locations, 39 per cent said they did so on Facebook, 18 per cent on Foursquare and 14 per cent on Google Plus.

The survey results highlight the increasing role of smartphones that can track users' locations, which raises privacy and safety concerns, but also offers opportunities for tech firms to tell customers what is near them.

Some prior survey results indicate a number of mobile-phone users have disabled location-tracking features at some point due to privacy concerns.

The findings were based on a survey of 2,252 adults from April 17 to May 19, with a margin of error estimated at 2.3 percentage points.