User Location Options

Options in the profile and identity settings that allow users to generalize, hide or not include location depending on context or circle of connections.

How does this mitigate hate?

Giving people the option to hide their location or generalize a public display of their location reduces the ability for harassers to find them in real life.

(A major chunk of this patterns comes from Designing Social Interfaces by Erin Malone and Christian Crumlish)


When to use it?

Use when a person wants to track their route over time.

Use when a person wants to place images or themselves on a map.

Use when a person wants to explicitly share where they are (i.e. a tourist site, a restaurant, an airport)

Use when a person wants to understand where they are in relation to other people, places or things.

Provide easily discovered settings to allow users to turn location features on and off for safety and privacy.

How to use it?

Location-based service providers should inform people as to how their location information will be used, disclosed, and protected so that users can make informed decisions about whether to use the service or authorize disclosure.

User consent: After users have selected location-based services or authorized disclosure of their location information, they should have choices as to when or whether location information will be disclosed to third parties.

Users also should have the ability to revoke any such authorization at any time.

Provide the ability for sharing location at the point of upload, or interaction and not just in settings or other hidden-away interactions.

Convert geotags into user-friendly addresses when presenting locations in the interface.

Clearly indicate how the information will be used and be clear about what is private and what displays publicly.

Users should be able to turn off presence or location indicators on an item by item basis, at the time of upload as well as in settings.

User should be able to opt-out of any location tracking.


Giving users the option to share or show location allows applications and platforms to offer geo-based services like maps, restaurant and event listings and other places customized to the persons location. Location tools allow people to gather together quickly based on a nearby place and provides tracking information for people who want to know how far they walked, hiked, drove, or rode their bike.


Showing a user’s location in real-time creates a potential vulnerability for stalking, in-person harassment or other behaviors that might be unwelcome. Vulnerable people may be at higher risk if their location is shared publicly or outside a closed circle of connections.

Additionally, location tagging on images and other objects shared on social platforms should be disclosed to users so that they don’t inadvertently share their location creating vulnerability. For example, phone images embed location information in the exif data embedded in the digital file unless explicitly turned off in the phone settings. Platforms who don’t need or show this set of metadata should strip this information out or hide it from anyone who is not the original poster.



Twitter offers options around showing location for tweets, including precise location which is easily disabled. (screenshots May 2022)


The photo sharing service Flickr has a very easy way to indicate who can see the location where photos were taken. (screenshots May 2022)

Facebook defers it’s Mobile Location settings to the user’s device settings for location use by each application. It does show the user where and how location may be used. (screenshots May 2022)


Crumlish, Christian, and Erin Malone. Designing Social Interfaces : Principles, Patterns, and Practices for Improving the User Experience. 2nd ed. Sebastopol, Ca: O’Reilly Media, Inc., August, 2015. Chapter 16.