Google Latitude Bug Looks Into Future

    February 26, 2009
    Chris Crum

Barry Schwartz recently shared an interesting story about his brother-in-law showing up at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida on Google Latitude, although he was in Newwark Airport in New Jersey. The interesting part is that he was getting ready to go to the Florida airport.

Google Latitude is a feature in Google Maps for mobile and iGoogle that allows you to share your location with your family and friends in real time.

Barry’s brother-in-law wondered if Google had gotten info about his travel plans from his Gmail account. Barry dismissed the idea. He says:

Google LatitudeI quickly asked him to go to and read me what he saw. He said, the ISP data come back as being in Newark. At that point, I figured it was likely not the Wifi network reporting back as being in Florida. I still dismissed it as some weird bug and told him not to worry that Google is anticipating where he will be based on his personal emails.

There is no doubt there have been many reports of Google Latitude showing people at the wrong location. The accuracy of this stuff is not perfect, so it is possible. But still, to show the airport of where he will be in the next few hours, well – that is a bit creepy.

It is quite a strange occurrence. I sent a Google spokesperson an email about it, and she tells me, "Unfortunately, this is just a bug that this Latitude user is experiencing – nothing more."

Bugs with Latitude are nothing new, and there have been instances of it using past locations. Looking toward future locations is likely to unsettle some people though. Privacy concerns over the service have been addressed here in the past.