Life360: You Are the Product

Time and time again companies (admittedly Apple a lot) will beat the drum with a simple mantra. If a service is free, YOU are the product. Reporting from By Jon Keegan and Alfred Ng at The Markup detail how the app Life360, marketed as a "family safety" app, traffics in user data to make all their cash.

A former X-Mode [a data broker] engineer said the raw location data the company received from Life360 was among X-Mode’s most valuable offerings due to the sheer volume and precision of the data. A former Cuebiq employee joked that the company wouldn’t be able to run its marketing campaigns without Life360’s constant flow of location data. 

The Markup

Life360 has over 33 million users. The service positions itself in a "fear" marketing role because you can use it to track family members. Their goal is to use it as a parenting homing device for kids. The company keeps all this data parents are using to keep their kids "safe". Life360 then packages it up on a silver platter for data brokers. Color me surprised.

The bonkers part of this is Life360 is a PAID service that's at least $5 a month. It goes to a mid-tier and then a premium plan at $20 a month. So even with paying them for their services, you are still the product. Because Life360 has found it to be more lucrative to sell your data and simultaneously charge you for the pleasure of doing so. Hell, their CEO is even blunt about it.

“We see data as an important part of our business model that allows us to keep the core Life360 services free for the majority of our users, including features that have improved driver safety and saved numerous lives.”

Life360's CEO Chris Hulls

Where Chris Hulls gets this idea of free services from is beyond me. Their website gives no indication of a free tier available past a trial of the paid plans. Regardless, this app is hot garbage on merit alone. When location-sharing exists as built-in features on iOS and Android, and you have to wonder why people choose this service.

Speaking of iOS, Life360 just completed buying Tile last month. This is the company who makes trackers and complained loudly when Apple released AirTags. More data pouring into Life360's pockets, simply to be resold. I never had a need to get a Tile but after this news, I will absolutely never go near one. Ever.

You don't even need to be privacy-conscious to be appalled by Life360's decisions. I'd like to wish they will course-correct after this article, but that sweet paycheck rolling in from data they are given with zero effort is a hard drug to give up. Forgive me if I won't hold my breath.