Last Night’s Dinner. Engagements. New Jobs. Weight Loss. Random Thoughts. People share just about everything on Facebook these days, and on April 20 the company announced that they’d be taking that one step further. They’ve added a new feature called ‘Nearby Friends,’ which allows users to share their exact location with friends in real time.
If you’re thinking that this application might be a touch too personal, don’t turn away just yet — there are several practical uses for the Nearby Friends feature. Imagine you’re standing in the middle of a crowd at a booming concert, and you can’t answer the phone to tell a pal exactly where you are. If you activate the Nearby Friends locator, your fellow concert goer will be able to see exactly where you are, map and all. Let’s take a look at how to use the nearby friends feature.
Who Can Use “Nearby Friends”
Not all Facebook users have this feature yet, though. The site’s developers are slowly rolling it out to U.S. users first, and then they’ll expand it to users worldwide; furthermore, it’s only available via mobile on iPhones as of right now. The team says they’re working to develop an Android version as well.
To see whether or not it’s installed on your iPhone, open the Facebook app, and click the chat icon in the upper right hand corner. If your Facebook app has been updated, you’ll see a pink target symbol above your list of friends who are online.
How to Use the “Nearby Friends” Feature
When you switch the feature on, you’ll be able to customize who can see your location. It will never be publicly accessible; that is, only your friends will be able to see it. You can whittle this list down even further by opening it only to certain groups that you can designate once you activate the app. Let’s say you want to keep in touch with your co-workers who you’ve marked on a list called “commercial construction projects”: By activating Nearby Friends, you can see each group member’s general location and nearness in miles.
You can only get a more specific idea of your friend’s location if he or she has also opted into Nearby Friends; if not, he or she will only be shown alongside a general measurement of distance, but there’ll be no specific dot on a map.
You can also share your own specific location by clicking the arrow next to the friend with whom you want to meet. They’ll receive a notification, and when they re-open the app, they’ll be able to see exactly where you are. If you want to provide this information for a set amount of time — say, 15 minutes before you’re supposed to meet for a date — you can do that, too. Your exact location will disappear as soon as the time has elapsed.
Speaking of disappearing, Facebook has made it easy for you to turn off your tracker should you want to go MIA. All you have to do is click the Settings button that appears within the Nearby Friends page in the upper right hand corner. You can also choose to delete all of your location history, but that comes with a price. If Facebook knows the places you frequent — home, work, etc. — it will stop alerting you when, say, a work colleague or family member is near you on a regular basis. If you erase your location content, Facebook will lose these reference points.
Do you think that this is a helpful addition to the social media platform? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!