Multiliteracies for Inclusive Technologies: A Case Study on Location-Based Services and Domestic Violence Survivors


Location-based services on smartphones connect users with real-time relevant information such as maps, directions, recommendations, reviews, and opportunities to connect socially. At the same time, these applications supply the network with users’ personal and location information. Posting on social media allows people to build positive identity socially. However, people barter away small bits of privacy with each user agreement and post. Users’ personal and location information, embedded in code and metadata, is aggregated across sites to produce geodemographic and activity pattern information and is sold as a commodity to advertisers. Beyond marketing, location-based services offer tech-savvy criminals another tool for tracking. This case study investigates users’ privacy concerns and the degree of their concerns about safety, monitoring, and crime; these were found to vary across demographics such as age and gender. Impact to the mainstream public is generally considered low, however, domestic violence survivors emerged as a non-mainstream population whose safety is severely jeopardized by the technology. This case study examines how location-based services impact the safety of domestic violence survivors and reveals ways that emerging technologies might be shaped by a variety of actors, ranging from technology designers, to mainstream and non-mainstream users, to rhetoric and composition professors who strive to be more inclusive and just. This case study elucidates a model for promoting social justice in future technologies by fostering multiliteracies on many fronts.

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