This image was lost some time after publication.

"We think it's a good thing that users can lie," said Tom Coates, of Fire Eagle, the location-tagging app Yahoo just opened up to all comers-and-goers. It's a topical spin on a problem as old as Dodgeball, the first widely adopted friend-finding cell-phone app. Dodgeball and its kin are ostensibly used for telling your friends where you are. But really? They're even better for avoiding people. Using a "mobile phone to play hide-and-seek is a welcome development for social-mapping services," claims, based on a few users' own predictably poor personal habits of relying on technology to do their dirty work for them."What's appealing to some may feel a little creepy to others," Newsweek continues. The same goes for the users when signing up for these location-based apps in the first place. What are you asking a friend, exactly, when inviting them to view your movements around a city? It really means you want to see where they are, and who else they may be with. You're not going for friendship so much as mutually assured surveillance. That users are lying may be painful to friendships, but it's all that's holding the social fabric of these apps together. At Brightkite, glossing over the truth is even built in as a feature: Instead of your precise address being sent as an update, you can opt to have only your city transmitted. Of course, some of your "friends" will figure out immediately that you don't trust them with your whereabouts. All the more reason not to lean on the "social Web" to manage relationships. The very people most inclined to make use of these apps are the ones who could never pull off fibs with any delicacy in person. Ideally, new services would take people out of the equation even more, and let computers have a go at these problems from start to finish. When I ask my phone where the nearest cafe is, why can't it just know that I mean "the one where my ex isn't currently on a date with someone else, ignoring her and refreshing Twitter"?