Nearby Friends is a Facebook feature which allows users share their location information with one another. To users who do not mind the privacy implications, Nearby Friends appears to be a pretty nifty feature. With it enabled, you’ll be in on where your friends are, how far you are from them and also get notified when they’re close to your current location, provided they have the feature enabled too.
Facebook’s goal of connecting people is further fueled by the Nearby Feature. Knowing friends are close by increases the chances of linking up with them in real life. If you’re out for dinner and receive notifications of a couple other friends dining in the same place, chances are, you might want to locate them and share a table. Furthermore, you might receive notifications of friends drinking at the same bar or partying at the same club you are on a Friday. You would definitely want to link up and party harder.
This raises privacy concerns, if you asked me. In a time and age where crime is at an all time high, who’s to say your location information won’t be used to track and harm you in some way? Thankfully, this feature isn’t turned on by default, neither is it’s activation a prerequisite for owning a Facebook account. Rather, users who find it useful can of their own volition activate and enjoy the feature.
How Facebook Nearby Friends works
If you have Facebook Nearby Friends turned on, you will be able to see a Nearby Friends list which shows how close you are to anyone who has the feature turned on as well, within increment of a mile (<0.5 miles, 0.7 miles, 1.8 miles). Timestamps of when someone’s location was last sought for is displayed also on the list. Being in big, well known cities have an added advantage as neighbourhood will also be shown.
I guess this makes the Nearby feature safer than other platforms which offer the same functionalities in the sense that the Nearby feature really focuses on people who are nearby, and not people’s exact location. Most people you will find are much more comfortable exposing their proximity to others rather than their exact location at a particular point in time.
As much as linking up with people could be fun, let’s not rule out awkward drop ins by people you may not be that close with or not want to see at that instant. I shouldn’t even mention getting targeted by stalkers.
However, if you feel safe sharing your exact location, you can also do that. You can specify how long you want your exact location to be shared. Durations available are;
- an hour,
- a few hours,
- until tomorrow and
- until I manually stop
The last option there allows you share your location up until you deactivate it yourself, as opposed to the other ones which get deactivated automatically after the specified period.
A 40-character message can also be added. The content of the message could be a request to friends to send you their location. If they oblige, their location will appear on a map view.
For users who do not have the Nearby Friends feature turned on, Facebook will on some occasions try to get you to join the bandwagon. Facebook carries out this lure by sending you notifications like, “3 of your friends are nearby right now, turn on Nearby Friends to see who and how close they are”. I’ll admit, that is somewhat enticing.
How to Enable Nearby Friends on Facebook
Now let’s see how Nearby Friends can be enabled.
- Once logged on to your Facebook account, tap the “More” tab in the left pane.
- “Nearby Friends” will now be displayed as one of the several options in the pane. Tap on it, and then Tap on the “Turn On” button.
- Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to see a list of your friends who also have the feature turned on. Have this at the back of your mind, cause you might not see all your friends on this particular list.
- To establish who can see your location, tap on the gear icon on the top right corner.
- Tap on “Friends” and then select your friend group you want to allow this access.
- You might want to share your exact location with a friend if they were close to your location. To do that, tap on the location (arrow) icon next to their name and select the duration for which you would wish to share your location for.
And that’s all you have to do to get the Nearby Friends feature up and running.
Disabling Facebook Nearby Friends
If you’ve tried out the feature and decide it isn’t for you, you can always disable it by turning it off. To get that done, follow the steps below;
- Navigate to Nearby Friends as was stated in earlier (scroll up and read through if you have to.)
- Tap on the gear icon on the top right corner.
- Toggle Nearby Friends off.
A message will be displayed letting you know Facebook will still be harvesting your location history. If you don’t feel comfortable about it, follow the steps below to opt out of it.
- Tap on “Location Settings“.
- Toggle “Location History” off.
This takes care of everything. However, the already harvested history log still remains intact.