With the introduction of their Nearby Friends feature, Facebook is stepping further into the realm of collecting personal data by users.
What sets this app apart from others that Facebook has launched is that it is not turned on by default. Using this move to their advantage, Facebook has tailored this strategic move to get users to change their perceptions about Facebook and their privacy concerns by offering them notions of power with the personal choice to utilize the feature or not.
According to a CNN article published a few days ago, “If you turn on the Nearby Friends feature, Facebook starts collecting data on your exact location and keeps details on where you've been in the past, not just places where you've used its app to check in. It also collects location information even when the Facebook app is closed.”
It must be noted that users will have the ability to delete individual entries that supposedly clears the underlying data as well – La dee dah I say.
Was there ever a need with customers to know EXACTLY where other individuals are? Is Facebook trying to create a need while tailoring their current strategy to a market they are creating themselves? Some say that “the idea is to make it easy for people to meet up in real life, so they can have conversations in person instead of comment threads, temporarily replacing Likes and LOLs with eye contact and actual laughter” (Kelly 1), and I wholeheartedly have to “LOL” at this. I know people are ridiculously attached to their devices and online identity, but are people really that hermit-like that Facebook is trying to teach them socialization skills?
Also, who is the competition? IS there competition? Granted there are numerous “like” and “check-in” features available and utilized, but are we going to see a surge in location-based tracking and tailored ad displays now as prominent features of an app? Time will tell. Or will it remain the invasion of privacy many have come to see it, even though Facebook’s Nearby Friends feature is currently opt-in and lets face it, people will post anything online and not think about the results until after the fact.
Standby for a follow-up post when the seemingly liberating opt-in feature starts to be contested.
Constine, John. "Facebook ‘Nearby Friends’ Will Track Your Location History To Target You With Ads | TechCrunch." TechCrunch. AOL, 19 Apr. 2014. Web. 20 Apr. 2014.
Kelly, Heather. "Facebook Launches Friend-tracking Feature." CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 20 Apr. 2014.