After making the announcement about a new location-sharing feature, which will allow Facebook users to keep sharing their current location with their Facebook friends at all times, Facebook has finally rolled out the new feature.
This feature, called the ‘Nearby Friends’, allows people to locate any of their Facebook friends who may be close to them, so that they can go and meet them in person.
The “Nearby Friends” Feature
This new feature relies heavily on smartphone locations services, and it will be available for all those who use the Facebook app on their smartphones. The feature is being gradually rolled out in phases, and must be turned on by the people using it. Owing to the allegations that Facebook does not respect the privacy of its users, the social networking giant has decided to make this feature completely optional so that people do not find their locations being broadcast unknowingly. To use the feature appropriately, you will have to turn on your smartphone’s location services as well. The Facebook feature will only show that a particular user is within a particular radius, instead of showing their exact location. If the two users want, then they can contact each other to meet and share a cup of coffee or a personal conversation.
The Location Factor
To maintain absolute privacy, the GPS system will ask you if you want to share a more precise location with your friends. So the privacy of your location information rests completely with you. If you want to broadcast your exact location, you can choose to do so and your friends will be able to find out the exact block, building, park, cafe or wherever you are located at the time. Your location will only be shared for an hour, by default. If you want, you can change the setting to broadcast your location continuously.
Though Facebook has come up with this move to downplay the growing stereotype that social networking sites discourage people from meeting face to face, making all social interactions completely virtual, there are still some downsides to it. Location based mobile apps are gaining popularity, but when combined with Facebook’s already swelling numbers, the feature may come at a dear cost. A lot of people have Facebook friends that they know only virtually. Broadcasting their location to such people may cause a slew of problems and crimes that we cannot envisage yet. Another downside, which is a little less pressing, is that the GPS services on your phone will use both your battery and your data connection. This means, while you are broadcasting your location to your Facebook friends, your phone batteries will be drained continuously, and your data connection will be used. So you may expect a somewhat heftier phone bill when you begin using the service.
This does encourage people to go out and meet each other. The feature also shows Facebook’s commitment to appreciate what millions of its users want. This is the first time they have announced and implemented a change in a manner that does not surprise, anger or confuse its users.