Facebook’s data policy, which was recently changed to remove user’s ability to protest changes to privacy policies, already makes location tracking and sharing possible. One line reads:
“We may put together your current city with GPS and other location information we have about you to, for example, tell you and your friends about people or events nearby, or offer deals to you that you might be interested in.”
Currently, the location tracking stops once the Facebook app is closed or when the phone is switched off, but the new app will make it possible to track at all times. So far, it is unclear whether there is any way for users to opt out of this other than to not download the app at all.
Not the Only Company to Do This
A scary fact is that Facebook is not the first company to do this; Apple, Google and many others already incorporate location tracking for some of their apps. For example, Apple’s app “Find My Friends” allows people to find their friends through the information stored by Apple. The other users must have the Find My Friends app, but it does not need to be turned on or open to do this. However, many of the programs that use this technology have not become as mainstream as the companies would have liked, as there is too much concern over privacy.
Facebook Location Tracker: Another Way to Make a Buck
Facebook is constantly at the center of privacy concerns, but this one seems worse than all of the rest due to the potential for harm. Since the app will track a your location even when the phone is switched off, there is no way for you to fall off the grid other then deleting the app from your phone. How friends are informed of your whereabouts is unclear, but this new policy could lead to additional issues, from stalking to robberies.
Those against this new policy have labelled it as as ‘profit trumping privacy.’ Is tracking the location of all users just Facebook’s way of grabbing more money without really thinking about the effect that it could have on its users?
Decoded Science asked Facebook, but has received no comment as yet.
MacMillan, D. Facebook Is Said to Create Mobile Location-Tracking App. (2013). Bloomberg. Accessed February 8, 2013.
Gayle, D. Facebook Developing App that Will Track Your Every Move – Even When It’s Turned Off. (2013). Daily Mail. Accessed February 8, 2013.
Apple iCloud. Find My Friends. Accessed February 8, 2013.
Facebook Data Use Policy. Information We Receive About You. Accessed February 8, 2013.
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