Report: Facebook Creating App to Track You and Your Friends

By Sam Biddle on at

Here's something that sounds incredibly scary but in reality is probably just slightly scary and overblown: Bloomberg says Facebook is working on a new app that will follow you around via smartphone, reporting your moves to friends. Creepy? Convenient? Both? Neither?

From the "two people with knowledge of the matter" who spoke to Bloomberg, the rumoured app sounds a lot like Foursquare's "radar" feature, which tracks your location in the background, tipping you off when you're near a friend. And then... the two of you use Facebook Messenger to meet up, Facebook Camera to document it, and then Instagram to reminisce about it the day after? Maybe the app will even tell you when you're near a friend-patronised restaurant or bar, giving you reason to dump your life into Graph Search results. As Bloomberg points out, Facebook already reserves the right to do exactly that:

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. We may also put together data about you to serve you ads that might be more relevant to you.

When we get your GPS location, we put it together with other location information we have about you (like your current city). But we only keep it until it is no longer useful to provide you services, like keeping your last GPS coordinates to send you relevant notifications.

Emphasis added — that bold bit gives Facebook wiggle room to keep your location information forever. Because who gets to decide when it's no longer useful? Who knows! We don't know. We can only hope that the recent monetary slap the FCC handed Path over privacy brow-raising will give Facebook pause. We can also hope this app is actually cool — if it does exist. Find My Friends in iOS has never even come close to taking off, and Foursquare is still a long way from Facebook's social ubiquity. But given that the majority of Facebook's billion-plus users are using the service with a phone, this has major implications — if it's real. I doubt many of those billion people are cool with perma-tracking.

But just imagine the Facebook search possibilities: SINGLE FRIENDS OF FRIENDS who are WITHIN ONE HALF-MILE OF ME and LIKE STAR WARS. I'm blushing in advance.