Facebook's Creepy New 'Nearby Friends' Feature Is Exactly What It Sounds Like
Facebook announced a creepy new feature Thursday called Nearby Friends, which will let you track your friends in real time. The good news is that users have to opt into the new feature, meaning that if you don't want to use it, you don't have to. Nearby Friends will let you know, basically, when friends are nearby. In a news release announcing the rollout of the feature, Facebook emphasizes that it's optional, probably because pretty much every app update Facebook releases is labeled creepy.
But this one reminds us a lot of Apple's much-ridiculed "Find My Friends" app. Newsflash, social media gurus: Unless we're actively checking in on Foursquare, we don't want all our Facebook friends to know where we are at all times.
If you use lists of friends to manage your privacy on Facebook, those may come in handy here. If you opt into the new feature, you can pick who can see where you are, and limit that to a specific friend group if you want. Facebook also promises that you can turn it off whenever you want.
Because you don't want your friends showing up at the bar and being all like:
On the bright side, Nearby Friends could be a good way to track people down in a crowded place. Ever spent a half hour looking for your friend at a meet-up spot, but you can't find her because she's directionally-challenged? (Spoiler alert: I am that friend.) Those days are over, and your stalking days are just beginning. In the news release, Facebook explains it like this:
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.
Sounds creepy, but maybe useful in certain scenarios. Maaaaybe.
Facebook also calls the new feature a great way to "make last-minute plans to meet up with a friend who happens to be in the same place you’re headed to." Which is potentially just Facebook's way of telling you to remember to turn it off when you're traveling.