Facebook Introduces “Nearby Friends” Feature That Lets You Track Friends’ Precise Location

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Facebook has introduced a new optional feature named “Nearby Friends” for its Android and iPhone mobile users. Launching the feature 4 days ago, Facebook product manager Andrea Vaccari says the “Nearby Friends” feature helps you discover which friends are nearby or see when your friends are travelling. The feature allows one to see the city or neighborhood friends are in, including on their profile.

“If you turn on Nearby Friends, you’ll occasionally be notified when friends are nearby, so you can get in touch with them and meet up. For example, when you’re headed to the movies, Nearby Friends will let you know if friends are nearby so you can see the movie together or meet up afterward.” wrote Andrea Vaccari in the Facebook newsroom blog.

The “Nearby Friends” new feature is completely optional which means you can turn it ON or OFF at anytime accordingly. If enabled the feature will reveal only your friends (friends or close friends or specific friends list) who are within 800m to 2.9km range. To address privacy and stalking concerns the feature only allows one to see location of friends who must have turned on the ‘Nearby Friends’ feature on their mobile devices and have chosen to share with each other.

Facebook’s “Nearby Friends” feature not only enables one to see their friends’ exact GPS location on the map, but also helps people find each other and meet offline. The new feature really helps one make last-minute get together plans with a friend  who happens to be in the same place you’re headed to, says Vaccari. Also if you find one of your friends visiting the same place you’ve been, the feature gives you an opportunity to send a recommendation of a great restaurant out there.

In near future it is expected that Facebook could share your location data with the advertisers. The new feature has the potential to produce a lot of new data on users but according to Facebook product manager Andrea Vaccari, currently none of that data will be used for purposes outside the app or for any target advertising.  Also promised was that the feature will not be usable by business Pages that you’re fans of  e.g. local restaurants and stores won’t be pinging you with offers when you walk by. But with Facebook’s recent history with promises, the operative word here remains “currently”.
It is also useful to note that users under 18 cannot turn on the service. Lets just hope that Facebook will continuously add up to their awesome services without being creepy for users’ privacy and security. Currently the feature will be available for US based users of the Facebook application for iPhone and Android.
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