Technology

Facebook Launches ‘Nearby Friends’ Location Feature

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Facebook has always encouraged you to share with your friends — your favorite movies, pictures, and life updates. Now Facebook wants you sharing your location, too.

The social network on Thursday announced Nearby Friends, a new feature built into Facebook’s mobile app that allows you to see which of your friends are close by, and even share your exact location with others.

How to use Nearby Friends

  • To see friends in your area, turn on Nearby Friends in settings within the mobile app. This feature is opt-in, meaning you must manually activate it if you want to be seen (or see others). Once the feature is activated, you’ll go through a small tutorial that explains how to use the feature.
  • You can select the groups on Facebook with which you want to share your location. You can’t share your location with the public or with friends of friends. You can only share it with friends or other groups that you have created, like “close friends” or “family.”
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  • Facebook will notify you when friends are nearby, at which point you can message those friends if you want to connect. You won’t be able to see a friend’s exact location, however. For example, the app may say that a friend is within two miles, but the exact coordinates will not be shared automatically.

    The app won’t specify a distance closer than 0.5 miles, but Nearby Friends can discover people that are much further away — even on a separate coast. One Facebook employee used the feature to track another employee’s travels through Europe.
  • You can show your exact location to a friend, if you so choose, by sharing your location on a map for a set amount of time (until 6 p.m., for example) or by sharing your location indefinitely. When you choose this option, the friend you share with will have access to your exact location in real-time. Sharing your specific location may make sense if you are trying to help someone find you for lunch or drinks. Otherwise, simply being alerted that a friend is in the area may be enough.
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  • If you turn on Nearby Friends, it will not turn off automatically. You will continue to broadcast your approximate location until the feature is manually turned off. Users be reminded that they are sharing their location thanks to push notifications, says Vaccari.

Now you tell me, will you be using this feature? Let us know in the comments below.

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