Face­book launches new lo­ca­tion shar­ing fea­ture

Daily Trust - - IT WORLD -

Face­book users in the U.S. will soon be able to see which of their friends are nearby us­ing a new fea­ture that the com­pany launched on Thurs­day.

The Nearby Friends fea­ture must be turned on by the user, so people shouldn’t ex­pect to broad­cast their lo­ca­tion un­know­ingly.

It will use your smart­phone’s GPS sys­tem to tell your Face­book friends you are nearby - pro­vided they have the fea­ture turned on as well. Rather than share your ex­act lo­ca­tion, it will show only that you are nearby, say, within half a mile.

If you like, you can man­u­ally share a more pre­cise lo­ca­tion with a spe­cific friend you’d like to meet up with. Friends can see where you’re lo­cated in a par­tic­u­lar park, air­port or city block. By de­fault, your ex­act lo­ca­tion will be shared for only an hour, al­though you can change this.

Nearby Friends launches amid the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of lo­ca­tion­based mo­bile dat­ing apps such as Tin­der and Hinge. But un­like those apps, Face­book’s fea­ture will let you meet up only with people who are al­ready your friends.

Face­book, whose motto has long been ‘move fast and break things,’ built a lot of pre­cau­tions in this new tool as it tries to avoid pri­vacy fi­as­cos that of­ten bub­ble up when it makes changes to its ser­vice.

The new motto, ‘ship love,’ is ev­i­dent in the cau­tious roll­out of Nearby Friends, said Jules Polonet­sky, di­rec­tor of the Fu­ture of Pri­vacy Fo­rum, an in­dus­try-backed think tank in Wash­ing­ton. He has ad­vised Face­book on pri­vacy is­sues, in­clud­ing the lat­est fea­ture.

He be­lieves Face­book is show­ing ‘a deeper ap­pre­ci­a­tion that with a bil­lion users, any change needs to be im­ple­mented in a way that doesn’t sur­prise the au­di­ence.’ That’s es­pe­cially so when it comes to pri­vacy, es­pe­cially when it comes to lo­ca­tion shar­ing.

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