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Facebook's Creepy 'Nearby Friends' Feature
By: Jessica Cherok
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Facebook has had a history of feeling a little like stalking. Now, they’ve really upped the stalking abilities with their new "Nearby Friends" feature.

The new feature for iPhone and Android can tell you which of your Facebook friends is close by. You won’t need to post a status about who’s around to hang out; Facebook will send you a notification! Well, only if you and your pals have the feature turned on. It’s opt-in, not automatically turned on like some past Facebook features (ahem, facial recognition).

This kind of "who’s nearby" feature isn’t new. In fact, a lot of dating sites use the same social geolocation to facilitate potential dates. Users allow their location to be seen by other users in order to meet each other and hopefully ignite a mutual interest.

Still, it’s a little creepy, right? While the feature is being marketed as a way for you to socialize better, there are also huge implications for how geolocation can benefit advertisers. By Facebook knowing where you are, they could use that information to send targeted ads to you. Inside a department store? Suddenly your news feed is full of deals and ads for that store.

   

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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