Facebook is the primary social networking service for billions of users worldwide. Its impact has been so huge that Oxford English Dictionary added a new meaning to the noun ‘friend’, “a contact on a social networking web site”, and the verbs ‘friend’ and ‘unfriend’ were also added. Thus, it is clear that it is a social networking site of choice for many. This internet-based social networking is about to take a location-based spin as Facebook announces that people will be able to track and find their friends if they are nearby using the new service called ‘Nearby Friends’. It will be soon available to US-based customers of Facebook’s native app on iPhone and Android. The service will be optional and users can turn it ‘off’ if they do not wish to share their location with their friends on Facebook.
Once you choose to use this feature than your friends or people in a list can see your GPS location if they are also using this service. For a defined time-period, users can also broadcast their location to specific friends. The options will be: less than 0.5 miles; 0.7 miles; and 1.8 miles. The friend can see the GPS location on a map. The service can be used in many ways for example to choose and meet at a geographical point, to recommend places of interest such as shops or restaurants or to guide someone on a new route.
“When you see a friend visiting a place you’ve been, it’s the perfect opportunity to send a recommendation for a great restaurant.” said Andrea Vaccari, Facebook Product Manager.
Facebook will send GPS locations of customers continuously to its servers so that both users can see the location in real-time. However, if you are concerned about privacy then you may like to use the feature selectively.
“We want to help you find your friends without sharing where you are,” Andrea Vaccari added.
The feature opens a new door for Facebook to earn through sharing this information with various advertisers whether Facebook chooses to do so or not will be evident in future. It also opens new endeavors for hackers who can tap into all sorts of location-based personal data that may put users physically at risk.