Facebook’s “Nearby Friends” feature enables geographical location sharing among its users

Facebook, in order to help users find out who is around them has announced a new opt-in feature. Called Nearby Friends, this allows Facebook users to see which of their Friends are in physical proximity to them – something similar to WeChat.

While it’s sure to stir privacy concerns, the functionality is expected to enable Facebook users to spend some time with their friends in the real world instead of keep chatting online.

The feature uses a smartphone’s GPS system to tell its location – provided that the user has turned the “Nearby Feature” on, on his/her smartphone. Rather than sharing a user’s exact location, it shows only that the person is nearby, say, within half a mile.


“If you turn on Nearby Friends, you’ll occasionally be notified when friends are nearby, so you can get in touch with them and meet up. For example, when you’re headed to the movies, Nearby Friends will let you know if friends are nearby so you can see the movie together or meet up afterward,” wrote Andrea Vaccari, Product Manager, in a blog post.

Nearby Friends launches amid the growing popularity of location based mobile dating/chatting apps like Tinder, Hinge and the widely popular WeChat. But unlikely those apps, Facebook’s feature lets its users meet up only the people they already are friends with – on Facebook.

Nearby Friends will debut on both iOS and Android in the US over the coming weeks. There is no word on when Facebook is planning to expand the functionality internationally.

The author can be reached at devesh@iamwire.com