Facebook launches opt-in ‘Nearby Friends’ feature

18 Apr 2014

Facebook has begun rolling out a new feature called Nearby Friends, which tells you via your smartphone if friends are nearby and how far away you are from them.

The feature, which may thrill some but horrify many in terms of privacy, shares your exact location with specified friends for a limited time.

“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,” said Andrea Vaccari, product manager at Facebook.

“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.”

He said Nearby Friends is an optional feature and users can choose who can see if they are nearby.

“You can turn it on and off at any time.”

Precise location details

facebook nearby friends

You and your friend both have to turn on Nearby Friends and choose to share with each other to see when you are nearby.

“Your friends will only be able to see that you’re nearby if you share this info with them and vice versa,” Vaccari said.

Once Nearby Friends is switched on, users can choose to share a precise location with the particular friends and set this for a period of time, such as for the next hour.

“When you share your precise location, the friend you choose will see exactly where you are on a map, which helps you find each other. Then you can meet up and spend time together,” Vaccari added.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years