February 5, 2013
Facebook Rumored To Release An App To Follow You Wherever You Go
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Facebook knows all about you, mostly because you've told it all about yourself. For many years, Facebook has even known where you are at any given point, recently launching their "Nearby" feature to let mobile users know what's happening around them.
Now that Facebook has "officially" become a mobile company, they've had an eye towards leveraging this information with a possible location aware app which alerts your friends when you're nearby. To be clear, this kind of information has been available ever since the social networking giant first rolled out their check-in service.
While out and about, Facebookers can check their Timelines to see which of their friends are at which locations. Other third party apps have also worked to share location data with friends in order to facilitate some impromptu hangout sessions.
According to 2 unnamed sources who spoke with Bloomberg, Facebook plans to use this information to create an always-running app, slated for a mid-March release. In addition to alerting "friends" when they are close to one another or allowing "friends" to search for one another, Facebook also plans to use this up-to-the-minute GPS data to deliver relevant and location-aware ads via their mobile platform.
According to Bloomberg's sources, the team responsible for this app is being led by ex-Google employee Peter Deng. This location aware app could also use talent and technology from Facebook acquisitions, such as Glancee and Gowalla.
Other location-aware apps, such as Foursquare, Google's Latitude or even Twitter have long been providing this information. Even Apple has a similar app - Find My Friends - which constantly displays the location data of family and friends, all with consent of course.
Facebook's new app is said to work like a combination of Foursquare and Find My Friends, allowing users to check into locations and share this data with friends. However, like Find My Friends, this app will always be running in the background, always sharing location data and, ultimately, always providing advertisers with up-to-date location data.
These sorts of apps have long been available, but they have yet to gain a significant user base. While potentially useful, apps such as these must always be mindful of privacy pitfalls as well as poor battery performance.
Facebook already uses location data and mentions as much in their data policy.
"When we get your GPS location, we put it together with other location information we have about you (like your current city),” reads Facebook's data use policy.
Once this data is no longer useful to them (or once the data becomes so old the ads no longer become relevant) Facebook says they get rid of this data, only to collect more. Facebook has made no official statement about this potential app. As such, these claims are at best, a rumor. However, given the supposed mid-March timeline, Facebook may be looking to launch this app during the increasingly popular and incredibly mobile-driven South by Southwest Interactive Festival.