What does it mean to have your friends and partner geolocated 24 hours a day?

What does it mean to have your friends and partner geolocated 24 hours a day?

Irene Bartolomé, a 26-year-old political scientist, knows at all times where her 28 best friends are. She has them all included in the iPhone’s Find My app, which allows you to constantly know the location of other people. “I give it infinite uses. Before, if she wanted to talk to someone on the phone, she would call them and that would be it. Now I look at where that person is, because if she is at work I know I can’t call her. The more people you have, the more you use it. It seems to me to be a somewhat romantic way of being in the daily life of your friends, because it generates an illusion of routine. Maybe you see that at six in the morning your friend is already awake and you say: ‘Good morning, pretty.'”

As happens with so many things in the social use of technology, when Apple decided to unify two of its most popular apps into one (the one used to search for the iPhone itself when it disappeared due to theft or loss and the one to “find friends”) He probably didn’t see it coming that it would become a tool of control and sociability. Many couples, almost always very young, always have it activated, so that they can check where the other goes 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The more people you have, the more you use it. It seems to me to be a romantic way to be in the daily life of your friends: it generates an illusion of routine

Irene Bartolome26

Irene Bartolomé, political scientist

Irene Bartolomé declares that she uses the geolocation application with her friends, but she is clear that she would never give it to her parents or a partner


In some families it is a cause of discord, since parents of teenagers want to activate it for their children and thus have them more controlled, but they rebel against what they perceive as a gesture of hypervigilance. Many young women use it with their friends for safety reasons, and warn them to be especially aware if they meet people through dating apps or if they go out at night. Finally, there are also people like Bartolomé, who has the location of almost thirty people on his cell phone and uses it practically as a social network.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its rules. “I would never give it to my parents, or to a partner, and I don’t have the location of anyone who doesn’t have mine. It has to be reciprocal, and emerge organically. It’s not like asking for Instagram,” says Irene Bartolomé. It also helps him to make sure that her friends have arrived home safely after a night of partying, without having to write the classic message of: “Everything is fine, now home”, or to give signs of life when she picks up the bus. car.

Toxicity or safety?

The use of these apps is associated with hypervigilance, but there are groups of friends who use them consensually for safety.

GPS Map to Route Destination network connection Location Street Map with GPS Icons Navigation

In the new lexicon of relationships, offering the permanent location would be the equivalent of making a copy of the house key.

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Álex Maroño, a Spanish journalist based in New York, also has several friends, in several countries, permanently located on his phone. “My sister lives in A Coruña and she would say that it is like having a little window into her life. Living far from her, those details help me feel connected to her. With my friends from New York, it is a mix of security and curiosity: she lets me know what they are doing, where they are. Some night, before going to sleep, I look at the app to check that each one is at her house.”

This use, although it is spreading, is still a minority, because generally we talk about sharing locations within the couple. TikTok is full of videos of very young people debating whether giving themselves permanent location is a toxic gesture or a sign of complete trust. There are even girls who boast, in a humorous way, of activating their boyfriends’ location when they don’t realize it.

I use it with my friends for a mix of security and curiosity: it allows me to know what they are doing, where they are. One night I look at the app to check that everyone is at home

Alex MaroñoJournalist

Mireia, who writes in Very strong. A lot. “How much work we have.” Her inspiration to write it came precisely from a video by the influencer Natalia Palacios on TikTok (almost a million followers on TikTok, 428,000 on Instagram) in which she surprised her boyfriend with a tattoo she had gotten with his name and One of the boyfriend’s first reactions was to say: “Now I understand why you took off the location for a while.” That is to say, he had recorded the only time when she virtually disappeared for a while.

Mireia’s message went up in smoke for a few days, with more than 200 quotes and 190 responses that included everything. From people like Fernando López, a 41-year-old coach and psychologist who admitted to using tracking applications with his partner to many users who shared the horror at the lack of privacy. López explains that he and his partner use the Live 360 ​​application, which also works in places without coverage, because they are both mountain fans, in case they get lost or get trapped, and that they check it sometimes during the day. every day to know, for example, if it is time to put something in the oven because the other is only 10 minutes from home. “I’m not worried that they have me tracked“I have never been one to hide anything,” he says.

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Another of those who commented on the thread was Sergi, a 39-year-old teacher who prefers not to provide his last name. In her case, he shared a permanent location with an ex-partner at her request, who felt a lot of mistrust and insecurity. “We had many incompatibilities, but the one that generated the most tension had to do with my friends. My profession helps a lot to have friends because there are more women than men in the teaching staff. We had an exclusive and closed relationship, and she had had some negative experiences in the past. I offered her to have my location at all times, until she asked me to take it away from her because it made her nervous. In the end, nothing helped to stop me from distrusting him. “I broke up the relationship when I couldn’t handle the constant suspicion anymore, despite loving her very much.”

In the new lexicon of relationships, offering permanent location would be equivalent to making a copy of the house key or agreeing to have sexual relations without methods that protect against sexually transmitted diseases, a rite that in that context is understood, to good or bad, as a test of commitment.

I offered my partner to have my location at all times, until she asked me to take it away because it made her nervous. In the end, nothing helped me stop distrusting


Psychopedagogue Cristina Crespo is a counselor at the IES Barcelona Congrès. Before living day-to-day with teenagers, she graduated with a TFG focused on the use of technology in romantic relationships between 3rd and 4th ESO students. “That was seven years ago and then it was done mostly with WhatsApp. I observed control dynamics and some alarming data,” she recalls.

At the institute where he works, he has observed that it is very normal to share Instagram passwords, also as a test of trust, especially between friends. Adolescents often do not see it so much as a tool of control – although sometimes it becomes that and leads to questions like: What were you doing there? or why were you in the same place as this other person? – but as something positive.

Trust tests

Among young couples and friends, it is common to share cell phone or social network passwords as a sign of trust.

“His speech is: since we are best friends, or a couple, I add you to this list premium“I offer you this,” says the educational psychologist. Crespo is concerned about the identification of love with possession that is evident in some of these attitudes and that are widespread among adolescents: “I see behaviors of trying to control the friendship relationships of others and I try to reason with them, when they do not understand, for example, that their new partner remains friends with someone with whom you had something in the past. It is related to self-esteem and confidence and can be very destructive. “Jealousy is a very present emotion that we try to dismantle with conversations and support.”

Their observations at the institute agree with the conclusions of several reports provided by INJUVE, the Youth Institute, such as the one titled Emotional dependence, romantic jealousy and cyber violence, carried out in 2022 by researchers Lucía Granda and María de la Villa Moral, and which concluded that the mechanisms of control and violence that the digital environment allows make a toxic couple with “romantic myths and the maladaptive and idealized vision of the relationship.” “This leads to tolerating inappropriate behaviors, which are aggravated by the minimization of jealousy and related to controlling behaviors,” he said, such as, for example, perceiving that the partner has left the location for a few minutes and asking: “ Where were you?”.

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