Facebook Allegedly Tracks Phones' Location To Serve Friend Suggestions: How To Turn This Off


Facebook is taking it to the next level with the "people you may know" suggestions, now tapping into your phone's location data.

Simply put, if at some point you were in the same location as another Facebook user, even if you don't really know them, you might be seeing them as a suggested friend on the social network. You could be going to an AA meeting without exchanging names or phone numbers with anyone, and then get home to see Facebook suggesting you befriend the guy sitting next to you.

You could be getting a friend suggestion to add the person that creeped you out at a bar last night. Or worse, they could be getting a suggestion to add you, learning your name, seeing your public profile photos and so on.

It's creepy, but it's real. Facebook is using phones' location data to take note of the people you meet and serve them up as suggested friends, whether you actually met them or just passed by them. If you see a suggested friend that kind of looks familiar, but you don't know where to place them, this could be it: location.

According to Fusion, however, location alone is not enough to spark that connection, the people in question would need to have some other common point as well, such as the same network in the same location. Even so, it's still quite creepy.

While this feature could prove to be useful for some Facebook users who don't mind having their every step tracked, others might prefer disabling location services for the app. To do so, you simply have to tweak the Facebook app settings on your mobile device.

On Android, it may depend on the device manufacturer and the OS version. Android Marshmallow introduced individual app permissions, which makes it easier to pull permission for an app to access various data. In this case, you can access your device's Settings > Apps > Facebook > Permissions > Location and toggle it off. On older Android versions, you might want to consider using Facebook through the Chrome browser, which prevents the social network from accessing your location. Otherwise, you can simply turn off location altogether on your device.

On iOS, access your phone's Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Facebook and select Never from the options listed there.

This should do the trick and prevent Facebook from tapping into your phone's location data to suggest potential friends.

What do you think of this Facebook practice? Do you find it creepy, useful or a mix of the two? Drop by our comment section below and share your thoughts on the matter.

Later edit: Facebook says it conducted an experiment with location-based recommendations city-wide and it apparently confused its communications team, which gave Fusion the wrong info. Facebook now tells TechCrunch that it does not rely on location to make friend suggestions.

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