Not so long ago the web was buzzing with privacy scandals from Facebook and the changes brought about by the GDPR. Now, it seems like the dust has settled and, in this quieter time, we wanted to review some of the recent changes we have made and to highlight the principles behind what we do here at Map My Tracks.
Let’s get some context
At Map My Tracks we have a global community of people that love getting outdoors for fitness or just for fun. Behind the scenes at Map My Tracks HQ we are a small team of three people who are passionate about making sure our community of users trusts us with their data and love using our service.
We take this responsibility very seriously and work as hard as we can to make sure that Map My Tracks is the product, not our users. It’s true that a lot of the service is free to use which suggests that user data is what we want to sell to advertisers, but this cannot be further from the truth. To that end, we recently removed all third-party adverts from the site and also removed third-party tracking code from services that don’t need to know what you do on Map My Tracks.
Why the change?
The tipping point for us was when it became clear that some third-party services might not be handling data harvested from our users in their best interest. Gone are the adverts that track you around the web and give advertisers more insight into your web usage. Gone are tracking pixels from other services that they use to build a picture of user behaviour. Gone are erroneous cookies from third-party services that really don’t need to know what you do on Map My Tracks.
You are not the product
Map My Tracks was launched way back in 2007. Back then, the iPhone had just been launched and the notion of tracking, and sharing, your outdoor activities was a distant dream. Roll forward eleven years and in that time Map My Tracks has grown, and evolved, into the global service it is today. During that time, we introduced premium features under a PLUS subscription for users and event organisers. This represents the product, and our revenue stream, and provides us with resources to continue growing the service. No user data is sold to third-parties. It’s your data, not ours, so why would we sell it?
Given the nature of the service, we understand that not everyone wants to have their current location broadcast all over the web. Since its inception, the Map My Tracks app has always had the default tracking state as offline. Unlike most other sports tracking apps, we don’t force users to share their activities or upload them online. These are options that each user can choose to use when they wish but the default is private.
It’s important that when users do choose to make their activities public that we handle their data carefully. Privacy zones can be set around areas that users wish to mask from the public. Homes, workplaces or frequently visited locations are typical places to set up zones around. We recently upgraded how privacy zones work in response to some research into their set up. If you haven’t set them up yet, you can do so here.
Map My Tracks also stops search engine robots from indexing your activity pages so that it is intentionally difficult for search engines to build a profile of your data on Map My Tracks. This means that Map My Tracks pages don’t regularly appear in search engine results, but we think that the trade-off is worth it to provide a safe service for people to use.