Written by Staff Writer
18 Apr, 2014 | 1:18 pm
If you think it’s been too long since the world has had a good old-fashioned freak-out over a Facebook privacy issue, then here’s some good news.
The social network has announced plans for a new feature called Nearby Friends, which as the name suggests, will allow users of Facebook’s Android and iOS apps to find friends who are nearby.
The feature will be rolled out over the coming weeks in the US, with no word on if or when the feature will extend to other countries.
“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.”
Anticipating the inevitable wailing and gnashing of teeth over privacy issues, Facebook stresses that the new feature is opt-in and won’t be available to users under the age of 18.
The company has often run afoul of privacy hounds by making new features the default, or making changes that expose more information unless users manually change their setting.
With Nearby Friends, both users have to manually 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. By default, a person’s exact location will only be shared for an hour, although that can be changed.
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, there is always the chance that the feature could create an instant popularity contest: one friend blows off another friend, knowing they are right there, resulting in a slightly awkward situation the next time they meet.
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