Science and Tech


Facebook To Share Nearby Friends Data With Advertisers

A Facebook spokesperson has confirmed the company will use GPS data from the new Nearby Friends feature for advertising sometime in the future.
Posted at 3:17 PM, Apr 19, 2014

Facebook has confirmed what we pretty much already suspected about its new Nearby Friends feature.

A spokesperson for the company told TechCrunch it plans on using the data from the opt-in location tracking tool for marketing purposes ... eventually.

"At this time it's not being used for advertising or marketing, but in the future it will be." ​(Via TechCrunch)

The new feature allows users to share their location with friends of their choosing, which enables those friends to see when they're in the same area so they can meet up offline quickly and easily. (Via Facebook)

But you're in control when it comes to who can see this information.

You can choose from everyone on your friends list, close friends or just specific people. You have to turn it on, your friends have to turn it on and both of you have to agree to share your locations. (Via CNET)

Now, when Facebook announced Nearby Friends Thursday, the company didn't say if it would be sharing any of the GPS data from the new feature to advertisers.

But as CNET points out, it's not all that shocking. "Facebook is in the business of selling advertising and the more data it can provide to ad buyers, a group that contributed $2.34 billion in revenue to the company in the fourth quarter, the better."

And it's not like the company hasn't done something like this before. 

Ever wonder where those little ads on the right side of your Facebook page come from? They're directly related to which pages you "like" on the site, including movies and TV shows. (Via Facebook)

But it still has some a little concerned about privacy and security. As The Verge notes, "Even with transparent controls over who can see your data, the idea of being tracked by Facebook will nonetheless intimidate some users."

But that's likely why Facebook made the feature opt-in in the first place. And Mashable reports, if a user does choose to turn it on, they have a lot of control over exactly who can see their location.

If you do decide to use Nearby Friends on your smartphone, the feature is now rolling out to both Android and iOS users.