Facebook "Nearby Friends" Lets People Track Your Precise Location

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Facebook "Nearby Friends" Lets People Track Your Precise Location

Facebook nearby friends

Facebook's upcoming Nearby Friends feature can tell your friends exactly where you are.

Facebook is starting to roll out a new feature that broadcasts your exact location using your mobile device's GPS. "Nearby Friends" lets you know when your friends are close, and gives you the option to send them a real-time map of exactly where you are. It carries some decidedly Violation-Of-Privacy-flavored risks, so it's opt-in for now. But Facebook would really love for you to enable it and use it all the time, and maybe enjoy some location-based ads while you're at it.

People tend to get nervous when their physical location data is involved, but the GPS feature itself seems pretty innocuous. The "precise location" broadcast only lasts as long as you allow it to, and only gets sent to the people you choose. However, your general location seems to be available to all your friends, and you'll be notified if one of your Facebook friends happens to be near you (if you both have the feature enabled). Even if you don't know exactly where they are, a pop-up announcing "John Smith is nearby" is a little more information than I really want to know at any given moment.

Opting into the feature also turns on Location History for your account, letting Facebook know where you've been and serving you relevant advertisements. If you aren't comfortable sharing your whereabouts with faceless corporations and casual acquaintances, you can toggle it on or off at any time in your account settings.

Source: Techlicious

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Makes me wonder why people were surprised about the NSA stuff.

Facebook and other social media has been far, far more creepy for way longer. At least the NSA doesn't make that information available to the public.

P.S. Not defending them; they're assholes too.

No. Just, no.

Facebook, Stahp. Please. You're crossing lines here.

SKBPinkie:
Makes me wonder why people were surprised about the NSA stuff.

Facebook and other social media has been far, far more creepy for way longer. At least the NSA doesn't make that information available to the public.

P.S. Not defending them; they're assholes too.

Not only that, but it seems to me that if you have a desire to let everyone know that you are close by..... How narcissistic can you be?

Another reason for me to not use social media, as if I didn't have enough reasons.

Hmmm maybe facebook is a hidden arm of the NSA?

Let me guess, whenever the next 'simplified' privacy controls are rolled out, this will quietly be switched to 'on' by default.

I'm curious who this thing is actually for...

Maybe other people wander around aimlessly because they're bored and it's something to do but if I'm going somewhere, I have a purpose of going there. If I wanted someone else to come with me, I'd have invited them. If I'm blindly groping out for a friend and I'm throwing a bottle into the ocean to see if someone's around, I'd just post to Facebook that I'm at X Location.

An automated system just seems like a terrible idea with really really strong negatives (maybe I don't want to hang out with that person or maybe a stalker of an ex is wondering which dark alleys I like to hang around at) and a handful of positives for a very select group of people.

I agree that this is very disturbing, and yet another reason for me to never have a personal Facebook account.

HOWEVER!

I'm going to play Devil's Advocate and list some potential positive uses for this kind of technology.

It can help locate missing people, especially children.
It can help track down wanted criminals.
It can help friends keep track of where each other is, in case someone's running late for something.
It can help parents know exactly where their kids are, for their safety and to make sure they're not going places they shouldn't.

I'm sure there's a few other potential positives. But in this climate of privacy violations, fears of Big Brother, and illegal government surveillance, it's not welcome. All those positives have existing technologies and techniques that are effective and still be respectful of privacy. As a result, these few positives don't outweigh or equalize the several negatives.

This will give a whole new meaning to "Facebook stalking", amiright?

Facebook. Because she loves you! She just doesn't know it yet.

I don't think its that bad. You have to opt in to it, meaning its not a default. And its a useful feature for people who want to use it. I'm all for technology that has specific benefits if they are honest and upfront about what it means about your private information. Facebook having dibs that I'm at a local movie theater isn't a threat to me - and if the future ever becomes so dystopian that I do need to worry about it, I doubt using Facebook or my cell phone will be a high priority.

As for people concerned about privacy concerns - don't opt in. And while your at it, get rid of your cellphone. You're essentially carrying around a camera and mouth piece with a GPS tracker on it. On top of governmental concerns, I'd wager money that any hacker who wanted to crack into your phone probably could.

Shamanic Rhythm:
Let me guess, whenever the next 'simplified' privacy controls are rolled out, this will quietly be switched to 'on' by default.

And every update to the rules after that. I mean, after all, you really do want everyone to know where you are at all times, don't you? Don't be silly, of course you do.

I think I'll continue not being on Facebook, at least until they somehow manage to turn that on without my permission!

Riverwolf:
I agree that this is very disturbing, and yet another reason for me to never have a personal Facebook account.

HOWEVER!

I'm going to play Devil's Advocate and list some potential positive uses for this kind of technology.

It can help locate missing people, especially children.
It can help track down wanted criminals.
It can help friends keep track of where each other is, in case someone's running late for something.
It can help parents know exactly where their kids are, for their safety and to make sure they're not going places they shouldn't.

I'm sure there's a few other potential positives. But in this climate of privacy violations, fears of Big Brother, and illegal government surveillance, it's not welcome. All those positives have existing technologies and techniques that are effective and still be respectful of privacy. As a result, these few positives don't outweigh or equalize the several negatives.

There are simpler programs out there for phones that do the exact same thing, minus displaying the targets location to everyone of course.

Rabid_meese:
I don't think its that bad. You have to opt in to it, meaning its not a default.

I'm willing to bet that the actual tracking functionality will be default, and the only option available, will be if (and with whom) one wants to share that information.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMOGaugKpzs

For users of Facebook, Twitter, etc.

This is why Android desperately needs the ability to simply deny certain privileges to certain Apps, whether they request it or not.

thank dear lord that i dont own a phone with a gps / smartphone OR have facebook twit-ter myspace or... well any of that crazyness

It's opt-in, and you can easily disable your phone's GPS. If you don't like it, it's extremely easy not to use it.

image

Well ain't that a new level of creepy. Good job facebook, you'll make stalking even easier! Truly they are the paragons of progress and privacy. Yes yes a person can disable the stupid thing, but the creepy intentions are still there.

And then Facebook does some tweaks to the settings and everyone gets to see exactly where you are at all times just like all those other times they made changes making privacy settings the opposite of what you had set already. This is just one more Facebook thing to avoid like a rabid pitbull chained up with a paper chain.

Frankly I am just surprised they haven't done this sooner. Facebook is notorious for selling info on users and this isn't nearly the first app to broadcast location data. I remember a flashlight app (which only turned the backlight on the phone) which broadcast the location data, sold your info, checked your search history, and even your messages. People just need to make sure of what they are agreeing to.

Man, being an optimistic futurist would be so much cooler if people could be 100% counted on not to be dicks and abuse whatever you gave them. But no, we have this whole 'realistic human response' thing that means that anything that could potentially be abused will be abused. (Also in this category: Unmanned drones, pretty much everything Google is researching such as Glass)

Alright, new futurist goal #1: Replace everybody with perfectly benevolent cyborgs. What's the worst that could happen?

Eat your heart out, NSA. Facebook is way more evil than you.

Pyrian:
This is why Android desperately needs the ability to simply deny certain privileges to certain Apps, whether they request it or not.

Damn right. Requiring an explanation of exactly what each permission is needed for would be nice, too.

Why the fuck would I need this?
If I wanted to go somewhere with a friend, I would invite them out. Obviously Facebook wants to get more ad info, but will anyone use this? Battery drain.

An excerpt from a conversation between a father and son 20 years in the future.

"Hey dad tell us again about this thing you use to have called.. what was it? Privacy? lol"
"Ah yes, there was a time when you could go wherever you want, be wherever you want and even for a brief time surf the pre- Comcast cable owned TV-net without having your whereabouts tracked, monitored, profiled and stored in data servers to be sold off to the highest bidders in the name of "security" and targeted advertising for crap we don't need.
It was a great time indeed son, a great time."
"Pfft. You're such an old-fashioned downer. Why would anyone want to live like THAT?"

Shamanic Rhythm:
Let me guess, whenever the next 'simplified' privacy controls are rolled out, this will quietly be switched to 'on' by default.

I bet at some point at some revision this is exactly what will happen. In the meanwhile like others said if you're not cool with this just don't opt in or just turn your GPS off.

my GPS and internet connection is on only when i want it on (not that i use facebook anyway, but in theory).
GPS alone would not give you precise location - it cant. the satellites intentionally randomize the location a few meters. this was done so no home-made GPS navigated bombs could be made to hit precise targets, as after all we are using military sattelites when we use GPS. Internet-GPS, well, good luck paying for that if you keep that on and it keeps checking.

This wont work till cheap mobile internet is around anyway, no need to panic.

That being said, i would have LOVED to know where some people are because when you organize a meeting and they are late i would definatelly want to know just how far they are and if they are even coming anyway.

tippy2k2:
I'm curious who this thing is actually for...

You go on a trip and have a large park/museum. your frineds have different interests so you split up. now you can easily find eachother when needed.
you organize a meeting and a friend is late. is he coming, is he far? you can now see!
Has you coworker left work already or are you able to meet him if you wait by the front door? well, now you can know.

there is plenty of legitimate uses.

also what riverwolf said.

Ed130 The Vanguard:

There are simpler programs out there for phones that do the exact same thing, minus displaying the targets location to everyone of course.

the article clearly states that you can chose whom to display the location to.

Pyrian:
This is why Android desperately needs the ability to simply deny certain privileges to certain Apps, whether they request it or not.

this, also force the developers to actually state the intent and have more categories. a program that needs to save data so i can do a "SAvegame" needs to be granted permission that could lead to it deleting all of my data. the permission as it is now is better than nothing but its way way outdated for user needs.

Falterfire:

Alright, new futurist goal #1: Replace everybody with perfectly benevolent cyborgs. What's the worst that could happen?

welcome to the club. may our inperfect bodies last long enough to transform our conciuosness into a machine to rule them all!

Great feature for would be assassins!

SKBPinkie:
Makes me wonder why people were surprised about the NSA stuff.

Facebook and other social media has been far, far more creepy for way longer. At least the NSA doesn't make that information available to the public.

P.S. Not defending them; they're assholes too.

Because facebook is opt-in and gives you something in return while the NSA takes everything, gives nothing.
While I don't plan on using this, I can see it being useful in meeting up with friends. Just send them a map with your location with one click and they will know exactly where you are right now.
It could be useful for parents to "track" their kids, but some people might say that's immoral which I strongly disagree with.

This has some up and down sides. NSA has only downsides.

I'm not defending facebook. I'm defending the idea. Facebook is certainly going to implement it badly and it will get the hate it deserves, but if done right, it could be good.

Strazdas:
That being said, i would have LOVED to know where some people are

I'm going to post how I would respond if someone asked me to use this for the reasons you stated. (Disclaimer: these are my responses only, others can do what they like)

because when you organize a meeting and they are late i would definitely want to know just how far they are and if they are even coming anyway.

"If you want to know where I am, call me and ask. If I'm willing to tell you at that time I will.

You go on a trip and have a large park/museum. your frineds have different interests so you split up. now you can easily find each other when needed.

"I will be at this place *points to map* in an hour. If you want to find me again, meet me there."

You organize a meeting and a friend is late. Is he coming? is he far?

Either call me and ask or wait.

My personal information, including but not limited to:

@ Location
@ Phone number
@ Email address
@ Home Address
@ Interests
@ Job

These are nobodies business but my own. If someone wants to know any of them, they have to ask me and I will consider telling them. The conversation might go thus:

*Ring ring ring ring*
Me: Ahoy hoy
Friend: Yo man, where are you?
Me: Why?
Friend: Um, just wondering if your in town and want to join me for a drink?
Me: Not today my fine fellow, I'm doing other things. I'm about tomorrow if you want to meet then?
Friend: Ok, let's do it then. What are you doing today?
Me: Bye.
*Click*

tippy2k2:
I'm curious who this thing is actually for...

Facebook? Your location data has a value. Facebook aim to sell it to companies who are interested in your location for money.

All they are trying to do is come up with 'features' that might make you want to give them that valuable data for free. However those features seem to be more of a side-effect than having any actual utility.

Ugh, no. I don't like people knowing what I'm doing all the time. I don't even like when games and services don't have an appear offline feature or the ability to set that to the default. It's especially not good when you have a significant other or friends whose feelings you don't want to hurt. I like my me time, and I don't want anyone to know when I blow them off just because I don't feel like dealing with them. Most people would probably take that personally.

Also GPS shit drains your battery faster so fuck that.

Shymer:

tippy2k2:
I'm curious who this thing is actually for...

Facebook? Your location data has a value. Facebook aim to sell it to companies who are interested in your location for money.

Yes, it's for Facebook. To boost ad revenue.

If you think FB has done anything in the last five years that wasn't implemented primarily to boost their bottom line, you're kidding yourself.

"Hey, Jason. Where are you?"
"I'm at the marina."
"Great! I'll meet you by the churro cart."

How is this technology supposed to make that ^^^ any easier?

Strazdas:

Ed130 The Vanguard:

There are simpler programs out there for phones that do the exact same thing, minus displaying the targets location to everyone of course.

the article clearly states that you can chose whom to display the location to.

That's for specific locations, general area is still to everyone and you can bet that info will be 'available' for 'people or companies of interest' in the near future.

Who needs this?
Who other than facebooks ad sponsors and the NSA was this made for?

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