Strava tweaks map settings that inadvertently displayed military sites

Fitness app reveals military info
Fitness app reveals military info

Fitness tracking app Strava is making some tweaks to its worldwide heatmap product that inadvertently displayed the location of sensitive military sites.

Strava said on Tuesday that only registered Strava users will be able to see street-level data of Strava activities, like running and biking.

Roads and trails with very little activity will not show "heat" -- or human activity -- until several different athletes upload activities in that area, the company wrote in a blog post.

The company will also now update the map every month and remove data if an athlete changes his or her settings to private.

In January, researchers discovered that Strava's public heatmap showed military base locations due to Strava users at those sites not enabling settings to make their workouts private.

Related: Fitness app that revealed military bases highlights bigger privacy issues

While the tweaks announced Tuesday modify the product slightly, Strava still puts the onus on users to be cognizant of data sharing on the app—they have to know how to opt-out of the heatmap if they don't want their activity to appear on it. To do so, an athlete must select "Hide anonymized data in Metro and Heatmaps" in the privacy settings.

The new updates also do little to prevent military bases or sensitive locations from appearing on the activity map assuming "several" Strava users exercise in the area and don't make their information private. And researchers or anyone else could sign up to be a Strava user and see street-level data.

So if you don't want your activity appearing on a colorful map, make sure to turn off data sharing.

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