14 February 2018
Strava, a fitness app for Android and iOS allows the users to follow each other and activities when they occur at the same time and place. The app’s slogan “The Social Network for Athletes,” perfectly defines it as the app aims to offer an organized marathon/run/ride so that the users can get to know who’s also running at the same place with them. The idea sounds fantastic and it’s been helping athletes in making strong connections as well. But, something is just not right with the way the app shows the tracks and shares with the users.
In November, Strava released the global heat map that shows the tracks of every run and bike ride visible as bands of light. Unfortunately, the heat map also shows the location of several secret military facilities.
It gets better, someone even created a Strava run segment in the UK nuclear weapons military base (HMNB Clyde) called "You shouldn't be using Strava here", but it was clearly ignored by employees. pic.twitter.com/RCzktTefpS— Mustafa Al-Bassam (@musalbas) January 29, 2018
It turned out that a few military service members performed athletic activities without switching off this tracking feature. A Strava run segment is reportedly created in the UK nuclear weapons military base (HMNB Clyde); this shows that the warning “You shouldn’t be using Strava here” was clearly ignored by the employees. Well, the employees should have probably disabled the GPS tracking on their phone while taking a jog at such places.
Tobias Schneider put to the notice of everyone that someone forgot to turn off their Fitbit. The heat map shows the trace known military outposts, supply, and patrol routes. He has tweeted a number of such cases where the markers are clearly showing the located military bases.
Somebody forgot to turn off their Fitbit. Markers trace known military outposts, supply and patrol routes. pic.twitter.com/7YTzoqKgDl— Tobias Schneider (@tobiaschneider) January 27, 2018
Well, the heat map even shows some of the unknown bases as well, which isn’t right. Strava was extremely proud while sharing the global heat map and called it the "largest, richest, and most beautiful dataset of its kind." However, while putting this heatmap to the public, Strava did mention that “Private activities are excluded outright” and “Activities are cropped to respect user-defined privacy zones.” But, this seems true only if the users have done their privacy settings rightly.