Facebook to end some location-tracking features due to ‘low usage’

Facebook will discontinue some of its location-tracking features starting at the end of this month. These features include Nearby Friends, Weather Alerts, Time Alerts, Location History, and Background Location. 

In an email to The Verge, Meta, which owns Facebook, said that this decision was made due to the low usage of the said location-based features. Users who used the features in the past began receiving notifications that the location-based features are about to end. Specifically, Facebook said that these products will not be available anymore after May 31, 2022. The platform, therefore, will cease collecting information for these features after the said date. 

Further, the company claims that all data related to these location tracking features will be removed from its servers. Before August 1, users could still view, download, or delete location data Facebook saved within its Settings and Privacy menu. After the said date, Facebook stated that it would automatically delete all collected data associated with these discontinued features. 

In truth, it doesn’t seem like many users are going to mourn the loss of the said features. For one, with Facebook’s track record for keeping the user data secured, some people might even appreciate this decision. Further, with the emergence of Snapchat’s Snap Map and Apple’s Find my Friends, there has been a natural decline in the usage of Nearby Friends, which was launched in 2014 to aid friends to set in-person meets by sharing users’ real-time location with their friends.

This doesn’t mean, however, that Facebook will no longer be collecting the location data of the users. The company says that location data will still be collected for “other experiences,” such as location check-ins, as permitted by its data policy. Nonetheless, users could opt to keep their location private by disabling Facebook’s access to their location through the settings. Starting in 2019, Facebook began permitting Android users to disable background location tracking. Turning off location tracking for specific apps was already allowed in Apple.

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