Facebook’s ‘Nearby Friends’ Feature: How It Works and Who Can See You

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Facebook has already gone a long way to make sure that people have an easy time making friends, keeping in touch digitally, finding out more about one another, and sharing embarrassing nights out — whether through photo or video. With a new addition to the main Facebook app, it seems the social networking giant wants to help us get a little bit closer — in person.

The new app feature, dubbed “Nearby Friends,” will allow Facebook friends to let one another know when they’re nearby by supplying approximate distances. So, if Timmy has the feature turned on and is walking around downtown at the same time as his friend Sally, they might be able to meet up for lunch — assuming they both want to. That’s the simple version of it, but obviously an application that is sharing as sensitive of data as location requires a little bit more finesse in how it handles that data.

According to TechCrunch, the “Nearby Friends” feature — note that it is not a full app itself, but a feature within the Facebook app — works in a manner that will generally keep users from over-sharing or accidentally broadcasting their precise location to people they’d rather not. First off, the feature is an opt-in system, so users will not automatically be broadcasting their location to everyone until they find and turn it off. Almost every further option within the feature requires a user to choose to allow it, rather than the inverse. This will ensure that no one is getting tracked by people they don’t want following them.

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