Facebook could soon start gathering location information from users’ Instagram accounts, if it implements a feature that the company has prototyped.
TechCrunch reports that Instagram has explored a new setting that enables the app to share users’ GPS coordinates with Facebook, which could allow Facebook to know Instagram users’ location even when they’re not using the app. Such data could possibly be used for targeted ads and content.
App researcher Jane Manchun Wong first reported that Instagram was testing the feature. Wong shared screenshots that show, in the Facebook Privacy and Security settings, an option that “Allows Facebook Products, including Instagram and Messenger, to build and use a history of precise locations received through Location Services on your device.”
Instagram, as a "Facebook Product", is testing Facebook Location History in their app.
It allows tracking the history of precise locations from your device, now through instagram app too
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) October 4, 2018
As TechCrunch notes, Wong was first to report that Instagram was testing Music Stickers and Instagram Video Calling. And while Facebook did not comment on those tests, the features were implemented months later.
Facebook did comment on this test. A company spokesperson told TechCrunch: “To confirm, we haven’t introduced updates to our location settings. As you know, we often work on ideas that may evolve over time or ultimately not be tested or released. Instagram does not currently store Location History; we’ll keep people updated with any changes to our location settings in the future.”
TechCrunch states that the comment “effectively confirms” that Instagram is exploring location history sharing, but hasn’t launched it yet. That might be a slight over-extrapolation, but it does seem plausible that Facebook is considering implementing this change.
It’s also likely that the company is looking for more ways to connect Instagram and Facebook, considering recent reports that Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger departed Facebook last month after growing agitation between them and Mark Zuckerberg over the Facebook CEO’s increased meddling with Instagram. Zuckerberg filled the Instagram opening this week with Adam Mosseri, a longtime Facebook executive who has been in Zuckerberg’s inner circle for a decade.
Facebook has not yet respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment on whether the company has any plans to change Instagram’s location settings. We will update this post if they do.