A recent report revealing that Facebook uses the user’s location to suggest friends has sent alarm bells ringing among netizens and once again the question of privacy has come to the fore. When contacted, Facebook has confirmed that location data put into play while suggesting friends to any user.
We are familiar with the tab “People you may know” but what many would not know is that among the factors which go into play in this process is the user’s position. Tracking the location of user’s smartphone allows the social website to suggest friends with whom the GPS data has been shared. In other words, the user may be acquainted with the person but whose name and profile he is not aware of until Facebook suggested it.
Facebook admits that smartphone location is one of the factors, but it is not the only factor. The user may know about a person who could be on Facebook, and the social site is only facilitating friendship based upon similar friends, work and education, profession and of course the locality of the user.
The social site is quick to point out the fact that location data is not enough to indicate that two persons are friends. Facebook builds up precise location history which is received through the location service on the user’s device. However, users will always have the liberty to delete this information from the Activity Log of his profile.
It could be considered as an invasion of privacy since users would not want any friend’s suggestion by the Facebook based upon the location data history. The best way to prevent this is to disable this feature and prevent access to the Facebook app.
It was revealed last year that Messenger app shared the exact position of the user, and it also tracked locations of persons who are not friends on Facebook. This lacuna was reported by an internship student with the social site. Ironically, the student lost his internship later.