Facebook announced that the iPhone/Android app will have a new feature. Called “Nearby Friends”, the feature aims to let you know when your Facebook friends are nearby your location. The feature, in itself, is not new to the smartphone ecosystem.
“Nearby Friends” works when you and your friends have the feature enabled. When you tap on Nearby friends, it shows a list of people (your friends on Facebook, obviously) who are close by. The interface tells you how far they are and time elapsed between the latest location tag.
Now, I don’t know if Nearby Friends is switched ON by default in the Facebook app but the debates about location-tracking, privacy and all the assorted things about personal preferences are on. Needless to say, you can turn off the feature if you don’t want others to know where you have been or if you prefer not to receive notifications about friends who are nearby.
Here’s how to turn off the “Nearby Friends” feature in Facebook on iPhone:
- Open the Facebook app
- Tap on More from the menu (bottom)
- Tap on Nearby Friends
- Now, tap on the cog icon (settings)
- Turn off the toggle for Nearby Friends
This turns off the feature, effectively preventing anyone (including Facebook) from tracking your location.
Nearby Friends, when turned on, will also allow Facebook to keep a record of the locations you’ve been to in the past with a feature called Location History. Creepy as it sounds to some of us, Apple has this feature in the Frequent Locations toggle hidden inside Privacy preferences. If you want to keep Nearby Friends ON but have the location tracking/recording turned off:
- Open Facebook app
- Tap on More, then on Nearby Friends
- Tap on the settings icon (cog)
- Tap on Location Settings
- Turn OFF Location History
Nearby Friends has an interesting time-sensitive location-share option where you can share your location for a particular time-frame, with a particular friend. This is very useful for a use case where you and your friend decide to meet up somewhere at some appointed time. At the time of meeting, you don’t have to call each other to find out where the other person is: Nearby Friends will tell you exactly where your friend is.