Get ready for new Facebook privacy freakout: ‘Nearby Friends’

Facebook will let you know where your friends are.

If you’ve been thinking that it’s been too long since the world has had a good old fashioned freakout over a Facebook privacy issue, then here’s some good news.

Facebook on Thursday announced plans for a new feature called “Nearby Friends.” The name is self-explanatory. But let us explain anyway.

In a coming update to its iOS and Android apps, Facebook users will be able to switch on a feature called “Nearby Friends.”

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“If you turn on Nearby Friends, you’ll occasionally be notified when friends are nearby, so you can get in touch with them and meet up,” the company said in a blog post. “For example, when you’re headed to the movies, Nearby Friends will let you know if friends are nearby so you can see the movie together or meet up afterward.”

To just cut through all that technical jargon: Nearby Friends helps you find friends who are nearby.

Anticipating the inevitable wailing and gnashing of teeth over privacy issues, Facebook stresses that the new feature is OPTIONAL.

The company has often run afoul of privacy hounds by making new features the default, or making changes that expose more info unless someone goes in and changes their setting. Which ain’t always easy.

With Nearby Friends, both users have to activate the feature and agree to share with each other before their location will actually be shared. Users can select who they want to share location information with, and for how long.

In cases where it’s been switched on and shared, each friend gets an alert informing them that they are in proximity to each other. Of course, if one friend totally blows off the other friend, knowing they were right there, then it’s likely to be totally awkward next time they see each other.

But, what are you going to do?

Facebook did not get a specific date for the feature to be available to everyone, but did say it’s being rolled out starting today.


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