Facebook is introducing a new mobile feature called Nearby Friends. It can tap into the steady stream of location information that your phone gives out, so your friends will be able to track each other and thereby know where they are, in real time.
This new feature will not be switched on by default. Your Facebook friends will not be able to locate you, unless you decide the live-tracking feature is what you want. To turn it on, all you have to do is head over to Facebook’s settings. By making this new feature opt-in rather than auto on, it suggests Facebook has maybe learned from some of their previous errors regarding privacy problems.
The options for sharing your location details are varied; you can either share your general location with all your Facebook friends, just close friends or you can customize a list of people. It is interesting to note that your location is only shared with other friends who are using the feature as well and have chosen to share their location with you.
A push notification informs you of how many of your friends are nearby. If you open the app you see a list of friends, the area or town where they are and the distance they are from your current location. Nearby Friends will be available on Facebook’s iOS and Android applications, but as the feature is new and is still in its early stages, it will only work at select locations.
There are other apps that already include features that let people “check-in” to locations, such as Instagram but those location features are slightly different because you decide when to share each specific location. If you do decide to turn on the new Nearby Friends feature, Facebook will start to collect data on your exact location and they store details on the locations where you have been in the past. Of more of a concern is that the app also collects location information even when it is closed. You are able to turn off the location history in the app’s settings. It is even possible to delete individual locations from your history also.
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