Your phone generally knows where you are at all times. Facebook wants you to be able to know where your nearby friends are, too. With the new Nearby Friends feature on Facebook, which is surprisingly not automatically turned on, you can discover where your approved friends are in relation to your location.
The belief is that this will let friends find each other and rather than communicating in an online forum, they will be able to meet up with each other and ultimately interact in person instead of online. Meeting in person gives you and your pals a chance to take a selfie and upload it to Instagram, which is owned by Facebook anyhow.
Facebook is, however, keeping your safety foremost in mind; your location is only ever shared with those friends of yours who are also using the feature, and this will ultimately minimize the issue of potential stalking. Certainly, cyberstalking has become an increasing issue, which means people who are online need to be wary of the people claiming to be friends that try to access a view of their profile.
With Nearby Friends, Facebook is checking where you are in the background, unlike the Check In feature where you have to decide whether or not you are going to publicly reveal where you are. However, you can only see which friends of yours are nearby provided your friends also have the Nearby Friends feature. It’s not simply a matter of seeing every one of your Facebook friends online. Your friends have to have the Nearby Friends capability as well.
However, this is a feature that can also be turned off. Some people are very concerned – rightfully so – about an app’s ability to track you down, with the belief being that if a tech-savvy robber can see where you are based on your location tags, your home and personal effects are therefore easy prey. However, given there is the option of turning such a feature off, concerns can therefore be alleviated.
What Nearby Friends could be ideal for is the notion of a quick coffee with a friend, or perhaps surprising someone if they are in fairly close proximity to your location. However, surprising them if they are at work could net you a bit of a sour note, as some workplaces rather frown on socializing while at work. The feature may have some questionable security, but the biggest charm for it is that it can be turned off and on as the user sees fit.
Nearby Friends brings the worlds of social media and real life closer together. People will no longer be able to use the excuse that they will see each other on Facebook; instead, they can simply see if they are near each other and decide from there whether or not they will go out and socialize. It’s a new feature that really puts the “social” in social media.