5 Essential Things You Should Know About Facebook Nearby Friends

Nearby Friends is a Facebook feature that will inform you about your friend’s location when they are nearby. You can also use the feature to track your friend’s location in real time. This feature is available in the Facebook mobile app, where once enabled, you will occasionally be notified when your friends are in the proximity range of your current location. That way, you can quickly meet up to grab a bite together, all thanks to Facebook.

Facebook Nearby Friends feature

Released on April 17, 2014 and currently rolling out in stages, the feature is probably not available to you yet, which makes it perfect for us to have a quick discussion about 5 essential things you should know about Facebook Nearby Friends.

1. How To Use Nearby Friends

First off, for Nearby Friends to work, you will need to share your location with your friends and have them do the same to you. To enable Nearby Friends (when you get it), go to the More tab within your Facebook application (iOS or Android) and look for Nearby Friends in the menu to turn t on.

Any of your friends that has opted in for this feature by turning it on will be able to see you in the list, if the both of you share your respective locations. The list will also show the distance between you and your friend, their last logged location and the current neighbourhood they’re in.

Sharing Precise Location At Stipulated Time

If you’re not okay with sharing your location all the time, but for perhaps a gathering or a meet-up you’d want to, Nearby Friends has an option for you to set the time you are trackable via the feature. You can share the precise location of your whereabouts to your friend(s) for a period of time which you can set.

That means you can look for your friends’ precise location on a map and be able to tell when they will arrive at the agreed meeting point, or if they aren’t on the way yet (even if they said they are).

Share Precise Location And Know When Your Friends Are Traveling

2. Use Of Your Data

There is no such thing as a free lunch and yes, using Nearby Friends will eventually get you submitted to some advertising (says Facebook). Basically, there is a plan to eventually use the data gathered by your location history for marketing purposes.

The data you submit to use Nearby Friends can be easily harnessed by Facebook to share with advertisers who will probably forward targeted ads to you – which isn’t so bad. For example, you will probably receive an online voucher, if you and a friend are lunching together at a certain restaurant that has a special promotion.

What's In It For Facebook?
(Image Source: TechCrunch)

Then again, this isn’t news because every other Facebook features that requires your location even before Nearby Friends, can be used the same way.

3. Facebook Features That Use Location Info

Even before the launch of Nearby Friends, there were other Facebook features that use or rely on your location to work. Those features are known as Facebook Messenger, Nearby Places, Check-in and Status update. If you use Facebook Messenger and share a status update via mobile, know that your location info is turned on by default.

Facebook Features That Uses Location

So, technically, Facebook already knows your location as exposed by you from the features listed above. It just can’t track you most or all of the time, until now. If however, you are fine with this, Nearby Friends is probably a great feature to help you reconnect more easily with friends.

4. There Are Other Better Apps

Note that there are already a few other services that offer similar, or even better, features that bank on location sharing. Just to name a few there is Circle, an app you can use to find out what local events are happening around you and which of your friends are attending the events.

Then there’s Banjo, where you can get information about live events and breaking news on your favorite social network, sortable by location.

Connect brings all your social networks friends (not just the ones on Facebook) into one map. You get to see which friends are nearby, who is visiting from out-of-state, and your social address book is always up-to-date.

We recently also reviewed Firechat, an app that allows you to chat offline with peeps in your vicinity using Open Garden mesh networks, without an internet connection.

Other Similar Services

Note that if you are an Android user, you already have a feature very similar to Nearby Friends: Google Now Commute Sharing. Through Commute Sharing, you can let your friends or family know when you’re heading home from work. It works over the Google+ network where you can share your locations to those in your circles.

Once enabled, your location will be available in the form of Google Now cards when you’re at work, leaving from work and when you arrive homeevery step of the way.

5. Yes, We Need To Talk About Privacy

Nearby Friends can only work if both you and your friend share each other’s location. The good news is you have the option to share your location to your Facebook list , just a group of friends or make it public to everyone.

But let’s face it, most people will probably share their location to everyone on their Facebook since it is a lot more convenient to do so.

Privacy: Are The Options Good Enough?

Overexposing your personal information to everyone may result in nothing, or it may come back and bite you one day. There are repercussions to oversharing that is unique to each individual so do use the feature with caution, rather than complain about how Facebook is invading your privacy or misappropriating your private data when something bad happens. The feature is optional, and at the end of the day, remember that you are in charge of your own privacy matters.


In comparison to other similar services, one clear advantage Facebook Nearby Friends has is that most of your friends are probably already on Facebook. One possible disadvantage is, this feature could probably have an effect on your battery life. However, if you want to bring your online social life back to real life, this is probably one of the best Facebook feature that could turn that into reality.

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