The Internet has some serious trust issues with Facebook. It seems every time Facebook announces a new feature, everyone goes nuts, spouting off conspiracy theories, privacy concerns and upset feelings. So when Facebook introduced Nearby Friends on Thursday, the Internet reacted as expected - with wild outbursts.
Facebook is going to use my location to do WHAT?!?
Actually, Facebook is giving you the option to share your location with select friends, so you can meet up and talk face-to-face instead of on Facebook Messenger. If you don't want your friends to know where you are via Facebook, you don't have to.
In the event you choose to use the new feature, Facebook lets you pick which friends you want to give access to your location. That way, your boss won't see that you're at Starbucks when you should be at your desk and your frenemies, exes and casual Facebook stalkers won't just "bump into you" at the movie theaters - at least, not with Facebook's help anyway.
Facebook is letting you decide who can find you on a map, who you share your exact location with and who you invite to hang out with you using Nearby Friends. Facebook is actually trying to assure you that Nearby Friends is completely safe and easy to personalize.
Additionally, if you are under 18 years of age, the Nearby Friends feature isn't available to you. So, parents, rest easy, your teenage daughters won't be able to check Nearby Friends to go meet up with burly bikers at the local bar.
If you already use Foursquare to check in at places, you'll find Nearby Friends isn't too different - it's just more personal. When you share your location, it will be because you chose to do so with a specific group of people. In a way, Nearby Friends is reminiscent of Tinder. Just like Tinder, it allows you to share your location with specific people nearby. The main difference is that Nearby Friends wants to help set up platonic encounters and Tinder...well, let's just say that app has a one-track mind.
Any way you look at it, Facebook's Nearby Friends feature is a good way to meet up with the people who are near you at any given time. As with any location-based feature, it has a specific set of risks. Is it possible that someone you don't want to see will find you? Yes, if you don't customize your friends list on Nearby Friends. Is it possible that someone could misuse Nearby Friends? Yes, because hackers always find a way around security.
On the other hand, is it possible that everything goes right and Nearby Friends does what it's supposed to do - connect friends based on location? Yes.
If you still want to turn off Nearby Friends, here's how:
- Tap More Settings
- Tap Nearby Friends
- Tap Gear Icon
- Tap Location Settings