Nearby Friends is a feature on Facebook that enables users to share their current location with one another. Nearby Friends appears to be a fairly useful feature for users who don’t mind the privacy implications.
With it enabled, you’ll know where your friends are, how far away you are from them, and when they’re close to your current location, assuming they’ve enabled the feature as well.
The Nearby Feature contributes to Facebook’s goal of connecting people. Knowing friends are nearby increases the likelihood of meeting up in real life.
If you’re out for dinner and receive notifications that a couple of other friends are also dining in the same location, you may wish to locate them and share a table.
Additionally, you may receive notifications from friends who are drinking at the same bar or partying at the same club as you on a Friday night. You’d undoubtedly want to form a group and party harder.
This, in my opinion, raises privacy concerns. Who is to say that in this day and age, when crime is at an all-time high, your location information will not be used to track and harm you in some way?
Fortunately, this feature is not enabled by default and its activation is not a requirement for owning a Facebook account. Rather than that, users who find the feature useful can activate and enjoy it on their own.
How Facebook Nearby Friends works
If you have Facebook Nearby Friends enabled, you will see a Nearby Friends list that indicates your proximity to anyone else who has the feature enabled, in mile increments (0.5 miles, 0.7 miles, 1.8 miles).
The list also includes timestamps indicating when someone’s location was last sought. Being in large, well-known cities has an added benefit in that the neighborhood will also be displayed.
This, I suppose, makes the Nearby feature safer than similar features on other platforms, in that the Nearby feature truly focuses on people who are nearby, rather than on people’s exact locations.
The majority of people are much more comfortable disclosing their proximity to others than their precise location at a particular time.
While connecting with people can be enjoyable, let’s not rule out awkward drop-ins by people you’re not close with or don’t want to see at the time. I shouldn’t even mention being stalked.
However, if you feel comfortable sharing your precise location, you may do so. You can specify the duration for which your precise location should be shared. The following durations are available:
- an hour,
- a few hours,
- until tomorrow and
- until I manually stop
The final option there allows you to share your location until you manually deactivate it, as opposed to the others, which automatically deactivate after the specified time period.
Additionally, a 40-character message can be included. The message’s content could include a request for friends to send you their location. If they comply, their location will be displayed on a map.
For users who do not have the Nearby Friends feature enabled, Facebook will occasionally attempt to convince you to join the fray.
Facebook entices you with notifications such as “3 of your friends are nearby right now; turn on Nearby Friends to see who and how close they are.” That is, admittedly, somewhat enticing.
How to Enable Nearby Friends on Facebook
Now, let’s look at how to enable Nearby Friends.
- Tap the “More” tab in the left pane once you’ve logged into your Facebook account.
“Nearby Friends” will now appear as one of the pane’s several options. On it, tap, and then On the “Turn On” button, tap.
- Once you’ve done so, you’ll see a list of your friends who have enabled the feature as well. Keep this in mind, as you may not see all of your friends on this particular list.
- To configure who has access to your location, tap on the gear icon in the top right corner.
- Select “Friends” and then the friend group to which you wish to grant access.
- You may wish to share your precise location with a friend if they were nearby. To do so, tap on the location (arrow) icon next to their name and then select the time period for which you wish to share your location.
That is all that is required to activate the Nearby Friends feature.
Disabling Facebook Nearby Friends
If you try out a feature and decide it’s not for you, you can always turn it off. To accomplish this, follow the steps below;
As previously stated, navigate to Nearby Friends (scroll up and read through if you have to.)
- On the top right corner, tap the gear icon.
- Toggle off Nearby Friends.
A message will appear to inform you that Facebook will continue to harvest your location history. If you’re not comfortable with it, you can opt out by following the steps below.
- Select “Location Settings” from the menu.
- Turn off “Location History.”
This satisfies all requirements. However, the previously harvested history log is preserved.