Facebook’s giving you a yet another way to creep on your friends. You’ll soon be able to use the mobile Facebook app to find out where they are, but only when they are close by.
The feature will be called Nearby Friends and users will have to opt in, giving Facebook permission to track them any time, even when not logged in. The purpose of the feature is to bridge the digital world with the real world by using data collected by the social network to facilitate face-to-face meet-ups.
Nearby Friends stemmed from Facebook’s acquisition in 2012 of Glancee, a mobile app that lets users connect with those around them and meet interesting people. Glancee’s development team has worked on Nearby Friends, making sure it won’t spam people with notifications or drain phone battery life. The team also developed algorithms to learn a user’s relationship with a nearby friend and allow for him or her to limit notifications based on types of relationships.
For privacy purposes, the new feature only displays the neighborhood a friend is in and not an exact location. While there are already several similar friend-finding location-based apps like Tinder and Foursquare, Facebook felt it was time to connect people and help them build new relationships.
Nearby Friends will be introduced slowly over the next several weeks by asking people to opt into the new feature.