Facebook could soon track your every movement

Facebook, the biggest social network on the planet with more than a billion users, seems to want to know even more about you. More precisely, Facebook seems to want to track you at all times.

At least that’s the gist of a report from Bloomberg that came out on Monday and says that Facebook is working on a smartphone application that would track users’ location even when the app isn’t opened. According to this report, the app itself would be used to track a user and alert him whenever friends are nearby but the actual use of the app is so that Facebook can serve you localized ads.

Facebook has been struggling for a long time with their mobile strategy and this app, if it actually comes to market, is just the latest effort by the company to try and monetize its huge user base and mobile presence.

The social network has already come under heavy attack amid privacy concerns for its users and launching an app that continuously tracks users’ location is definitely not going to help. Similar products from Apple and Google have failed to gain any widespread adoption due to the same privacy concerns Facebook will now face.

According to Bloomberg the app is set to be released sometime in March of this year though an exact date has yet to be set.

Source: Bloomberg

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61 Comments

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blah blah blah, I don't see where the problem is.. just turn off the damn internet on your phone. I have internet turned on only when I actually need to use it. Also.. just uninstall facebook and no problems!

Even with all the data that they currently have they have been struggling to make it mean anything in terms of $$$.

After everything Facebook knows about me, it still can't seem to serve me an add that I find interesting and will click on. At least they aren't lying about what my friends "Like" to me anymore (or saying that I "Like" stuff that I don't). That was too far. But I'm not going to file (turn over MORE of my information to some random law firm) to get <$10 over it.

There's already numerous apps built into the operating system of the phone that already track everything you do...including some that you think you have shut off....but still track you in the background.

You might as well face reality...every app you download is either advertising based..or a paid app...but even paid apps still track where you go and what you buy online.

Google Latitude already tracks me for all I care. I wouldn't use an app which tracks me if I don't want to be tracked, no?

Edit: Oh, and yes, there will be stories about people who opted-in, accepted a facebook invite from a 'pretty lady' they don't know in person, and as a result their house was robbed. Then again no technology can protect people from themselves.

My facebook privacy settings on my phone are already off and will stay that way.

It shows way to much detail when you can pinpoint the other persons house on a map while chatting to them

I just watched a video not long ago about how companies tracks your data, password, credit card etc. Facebook clearly don't even have a good policy or they just been slack with their policy.

Kenny Kanashimi Chu said,
I just watched a video not long ago about how companies tracks your data, password, credit card etc. Facebook clearly don't even have a good policy or they just been slack with their policy.

Why don't you think they have a good policy? This is a feature that people don't have to use and there is no confirmed information about whether Facebook plan to make this opt-in or opt-out.

Actually if you have cellular connectivity you are traceable but that's not the point of the article. The point is that Facebook are creating an app that will track users' location all the time. If users disable the geolocation service the app will become useless so it will most likely be turned on by default. Now how many of the billion+ potential users will actually know that the app is actively tracking them in real time? How many will be outraged 6 months from now when we hear about some stalker using it to get to someone? And if history is any indication Facebook hasn't learned sh*t from their previous mistakes

Actually you ard traceable even if the phone is off; and unless you pull the battery off a switched off device can be used to listen to your conversation.

so simply disable geolocation and use Facebook on your phone as normal, if any facebook updates mean I start seeing the location icon on my phone, I'll simply delete the app. -shrug-

Navan said,
Well, good luck to facebook tracking Calum all the time.

What's that supposed to mean? I have no problem with Facebook knowing where I am.

People don't want others (whom they don't actually know) where they are and think people they don't know are actually interested in them, even though these people probably don't know them either.

#Logic.

I'm not particularly bothered about my 'privacy' in this scenario but still can't think of anything worse, why would people want other people to know where you are.. i'm a bit of a loner though, and hate people.. anyone on my FB i care about i probably already know where they are, anyone else i'd rather not know or have random old friends showing up..

techbeck said,
Not cool if they do this...but I rarely use FB from my phone and do not do the stupid checkins wherever I go.

Why isn't it cool if they provide an opt-in feature that you don't have to use; one which many of us could find useful? Remember, there is no confirmed information about whether Facebook plan to make this opt-in or opt-out.

This article incorrectly states that the "actual" use of the app is for Facebook to serve users ads. No. That is one feature of the app, but the app has uses to its users that this article seems to ignore. Further, one fact the article appears to not point out is that Facebook needs to display ads and monetise in order to survive!

This article seems focussed on trying to stir up a privacy concern that is not even an issue. This app will track users' locations *if users choose to use it and allow the app to know their location*. It's an app that will provide much use to those of us who would like to use it, and it's an app that won't infringe on the privacy of those who don't wish to use it!

Edited by Calum, Feb 6 2013, 1:51pm :

Calum said,
This article incorrectly states that the "actual" use of the app is for Facebook to serve users ads. No. That is one feature of the app, but the app has uses to its users that this article seems to ignore. Further, one fact the article appears to not point out is that Facebook needs to display ads and monetise in order to survive!

This article seems focussed on trying to stir up a privacy concern that is not even an issue. This app will track users' locations *if users choose to use it and allow the app to know their location*. It's an app that will provide much use to those of us who would like to use it, and it's an app that won't infringe on the privacy of those who don't wish to use it!

Sure you can turn it off, but how many people know that option exists? I acknowledge that this has its benefits but.....

You forget that Facebook is well known for implementing features and hiding the notice in a change log to minimize exposure, don't claim that media and people are making things up because that's just bull****, as a Facebook user I have seen these things happen.

Toysoldier said,

Sure you can turn it off, but how many people know that option exists? I acknowledge that this has its benefits but.....

You forget that Facebook is well known for implementing features and hiding the notice in a change log to minimize exposure, don't claim that media and people are making things up because that's just bull****, as a Facebook user I have seen these things happen.


If Facebook provide it as an opt-in feature (like they did with photo-syncing) and clearly warn users it will track their location, Facebook cannot be blamed if users unwittingly use the feature. However, if Facebook don't clearly notify the user of what the feature does and if the OS doesn't tell the user the app would like to track their location, or if Facebook opt the user in without their consent (as they have done with some features in the past, which they may have since learnt from), I would agree with you that Facebook would be at fault.

I'm not forgetting any of the past mistakes Facebook have made; I'm just pointing out that the media should not post articles like this that try to create panic among Facebook users when there is no cause for concern. This article is clearly focussed on trying to worry users about a privacy concern that is not there; it's a privacy concern that doesn't exist because there is no confirmed information about whether Facebook will make this opt-in or opt-out and there is no information about how they plan to notify users that this app will track their location.

As it stands, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone all notify the user when an app wishes to track their location (and BlackBerry OS probably does), so if the user allows the app to track their location, the user is solely at fault when the app tracks their location and they don't wish it to. Facebook would not be at fault at all for that, although as I mention, it would be ethical of them to inform the user of what the app does in that regard.

Ah! Maybe the Facebook killer!!

Man,
I despise all the hype and crap about that place. It's a nuisance to some one like me who doesn't and will never even have an account on there!!

I would've thought they were already doing almost exactly this already also.

cork1958 said,
It's a nuisance to some one like me who doesn't and will never even have an account on there!!

Why is it a nuisance to you if you don't use it?

Facebook is so boring really, I honestly don't know what to post on my Facebook because I never know what people really need to know... Maybe because I am the type of person who hates to be at the center of attention..

Only reason I keep my Facebook is too use the chat and keep in touch with my Family and Friends really, I don't post anything on it myself personally.

SuperKid said,
Facebook is so boring really, I honestly don't know what to post on my Facebook because I never know what people really need to know... Maybe because I am the type of person who hates to be at the center of attention..

Only reason I keep my Facebook is too use the chat and keep in touch with my Family and Friends really, I don't post anything on it myself personally.


You don't have to post on Facebook to find it not boring or useful Many people use it to keep up with the latest news, whether that be current affairs or news about friends, family, and public figures. Further, as with you, some people use it to keep in touch with friends, family, and even acquaintances they wouldn't otherwise keep in touch with (e.g. old school peers whom they may have only spoken with rarely or not often).

Calum said,

You don't have to post on Facebook to find it not boring or useful Many people use it to keep up with the latest news, whether that be current affairs or news about friends, family, and public figures. Further, as with you, some people use it to keep in touch with friends, family, and even acquaintances they wouldn't otherwise keep in touch with (e.g. old school peers whom they may have only spoken with rarely or not often).

Don't forget stalkers.

I thought it already did. I've gotten some alerts from the FB app a few times saying Herp Derp is nearby at bla bla bla rest. I was like the hell is this?

JimmyCypherz said,
I thought it already did. I've gotten some alerts from the FB app a few times saying Herp Derp is nearby at bla bla bla rest. I was like the hell is this?

I've seen such a notification once but it doesn't happen every time a friend checks in nearby, for me. It's likely Facebook have been testing that feature while developing this app.

billyea said,
This is going to end up like Google Latitude. Not used by anyone.

I will very likely use it. It'd be great if some friends and I are on a night out and we're notified that other--perhaps less close--friends are nearby, or if I'm with a group of my friends and I'm notified that another friend is nearby. I/we can then arrange to meet up with those people, whether I/we remain with them for the night or whether I/we just say "Hi." There are quite a few situations such an app would be useful (when shopping, when at a ski resort etc.) When I went on holiday with a group of friends once, we didn't realise another group of people who went to our school were also in the same city abroad. If this had been invented, we'd have been notified of that and we could have met up on a night out.

I'll be watching you and the OP's response when the chinese see fit to hack facebook and take all the data. On a more serious point it is a big deal to a lot of people: those who still want privacy, activists, those living in a dictatorship. And like the rest of the internet you either support Ron Paul or Barack Obama, I'm guessing the latter; he has shown some concerning actions in office so far, under him whistleblowers have been targeted much more and also (I'm using this next point to just make a point) he's made the most moves to take guns away from US public whilst the government buys a ton of bullets; as alex jones pointed out on piers morgans show, "Mao took the guns, Stalin took the gun, Hitler took the guns, Castro took the guns". Facebook already gives your information to the government to store if they want it, with this they know everywhere you go, this can't be a good thing.

zikalify said,
I'll be watching you and the OP's response when the chinese see fit to hack facebook and take all the data.

I'm sure the Chinese have better things to do than hack my Facebook to get photos of me drinking a beer.
As for the notion of the Government knowing where I am at all times, I don't really mind. They don't have a guy who's sole job is to track my daily whereabouts, I'm not important or exciting enough for that.

Chris Kop said,
yeah, big deal, so i'm on the local coffee shop, BIG DEAL.

But are you there because they want you to be there?

<puts on tin foil hat>

Intrinsica said,
I'm pretty sure they are already tracking my every movement. The thing is, I don't care.

Near where I live, recently criminals used FB to find out the habits of a victim and kidnap her. With a tool like this, anyone can have access to your current location and know your daily routine, so they can plan on stealing your place, kidnapping or even worse. This lack of privacy is very bad. And I'm not even taking into account crazy conspiracy hypothesis.

sviola said,

Near where I live, recently criminals used FB to find out the habits of a victim and kidnap her. With a tool like this, anyone can have access to your current location and know your daily routine, so they can plan on stealing your place, kidnapping or even worse. This lack of privacy is very bad. And I'm not even taking into account crazy conspiracy hypothesis.

Don't add anybody you don't know and set privacy levels to high.

cooky560 said,
won't simply disabling the location services on your phone kill this in one step?

Yes, it will. As you alluded to, people don't have to use this; it's there for those of us who will find it useful.

link6155 said,
some browsers have it enabled by default. Not everyone is smart enough to turn it off

This is specifically a mobile app and that is all the report refers to. They may add this feature to the full Facebook website but it's likely that won't arrive at the same time as the mobile app. Further, Facebook have learned from some past mistakes, so they may well indicate to the user clearly that they can turn off the location services.

Calum said,
Yes, it will. As you alluded to, people don't have to use this; it's there for those of us who will find it useful.

This. I'm not sure I'd use this myself but I can certainly see the benefit of being informed when your friends are nearby. The only issue is whether Facebook enables it by default, which could have a lot of negative repercussions (stalkers, etc). With this sort of feature Facebook really needs to provide a page that forces you to either opt-in or opt-out, with no preselected default. Unfortunately Facebook has a very bad history when it comes to privacy and if there's money involved then they'll find a way to force it upon users.

cooky560 said,
won't simply disabling the location services on your phone kill this in one step?

Geo-IP databases exist, plus, you set a location and 'check in' to locations on devices... I think you'll find that from everyone doing that, facebook probably has one of the most comprehensive and accurate Geo-IP databases in the world.

theyarecomingforyou said,

This. I'm not sure I'd use this myself but I can certainly see the benefit of being informed when your friends are nearby. The only issue is whether Facebook enables it by default, which could have a lot of negative repercussions (stalkers, etc). With this sort of feature Facebook really needs to provide a page that forces you to either opt-in or opt-out, with no preselected default. Unfortunately Facebook has a very bad history when it comes to privacy and if there's money involved then they'll find a way to force it upon users.

Living in a place that recently had criminals use FB to find out the habits of a victim and kidnap her, I very concerned about a location-aware service that does not provide adequate privacy.

theyarecomingforyou said,

This. I'm not sure I'd use this myself but I can certainly see the benefit of being informed when your friends are nearby. The only issue is whether Facebook enables it by default, which could have a lot of negative repercussions (stalkers, etc). With this sort of feature Facebook really needs to provide a page that forces you to either opt-in or opt-out, with no preselected default. Unfortunately Facebook has a very bad history when it comes to privacy and if there's money involved then they'll find a way to force it upon users.


I agree that they must make these things clear to the user and give them an explicit choice about whether they opt-in or not. They have certainly made such mistakes in the past but I am hopeful they won't again (time will tell). I will always remember that time back in either 2008 or 2009 when Facebook all of a sudden started showing our location to the public, without even giving us the option of setting the visibility of it; we had to either have our location shown to the public or we had to remove our location. They sorted that out rather promptly but it was like that for a little bit. Luckily, I noticed it almost straight away because I check my privacy settings regularly, but if I remember correctly, they didn't inform any of us they'd set it to be visible to the public.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where most of the unfair and incorrect concerns about Facebook and privacy come from: Users and the media making things up or not understanding things.

Calum said,
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where most of the unfair and incorrect concerns about Facebook and privacy come from: Users and the media making things up or not understanding things.

Oh please, it's been proven time and time again they use dubious methods when collecting data, to put it lightly. Remember that whole fiasco with them tracking you even after you log out? Not deleting data after you delete it? Paying bloggers to spread FUD about Google's privacy?

I mean, I'm not telling anyone not to use it, as I use it myself, but this company deserves every piece of **** thrown at it. And I have nothing against you using it, but why the need to defend them?

Syanide said,

Oh please, it's been proven time and time again they use dubious methods when collecting data, to put it lightly. Remember that whole fiasco with them tracking you even after you log out? Not deleting data after you delete it? Paying bloggers to spread FUD about Google's privacy?

I mean, I'm not telling anyone not to use it, as I use it myself, but this company deserves every piece of **** thrown at it. And I have nothing against you using it, but why the need to defend them?


I would have to research what you accused them of before I believe they actually did that, but even so, that doesn't relate to what I said about them because I was only referring to the things people make up about them. If what you accused them of is true, it's fine for people to criticise them for it; however, this member specifically made something up about them which he cannot back up and which he has no proof of. Considering that, I disagree with your statement that they deserve every piece of **** thrown at them.

I believe Facebook only deserve to be criticised or praised for what they have actually done, not for what they haven't done; unfortunately, many criticise them for things they haven't done because the media often get it wrong (that time many media outlets slammed Facebook for breaching the privacy of users after they were going to allow developers to ask users to authorise them access to their addresses, even though that wasn't breaching any privacy because it was the user's choice to opt-in or out; the time people erroneously claimed that private messages were showing up on people's Timelines when they were actually just Wall posts; etc.).