Facebook has announced that it will now start sharing anonymized location data with disaster relief organizations. The kind of data that will be making its way to these organizations includes information regarding places people are actually fleeing, and the places people are marking themselves safe at.

Facebook is cumulatively calling this data disaster map. And it will be providing it to the likes of UNICEF, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, and the World Food Program. Eventually of course, the scope of the data could encourage other organizations that could make use of it come forward and claim it.

The data will comprise of location density maps, that will provide estimates of population distribution. The data isn’t very exact however, it is based upon Facebook usage and as such, is fairly real time. This kind of data could also help these organizations keep a tab on movement and decide which places people are gathering in, and deliver resources and emergency supplies there.

The data would of course be de-identified first, so that it would not be possible to pin-point the individual the data belongs to.

Meanwhile, it is interesting to think about the possibilities when you atop to consider the amount of control we are giving these Internet services over our location and other data. Think about the possibilities if these corporations start using the data for personal gains.

You may have already seen how Google searches about a particular service mean that you are going to be seeing ads about service provider for weeks on an end. Well, what is to stop them for using your location data for similar purposes? Anyhow, that is a matter for debate and there is hardly anything we can do to stop them. After all Facebook did tell the Indian Supreme Court (In WhatsApp’s context) that users who feel their privacy was being invaded were welcome to stop using its services.

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