Facebook will now give its Android users more control over sharing their location data with the app. By default, Android has an all or nothing approach towards location settings, which means either you can keep your Location Services on or off.
This keeps apps, like Facebook, constantly informed about your location data if your location settings are on. This means until today, your precise location data was shared with Facebook even when you were not using the Android app. To address user concerns about the extent to which Facebook’s Android app can access location data, Facebook has now updated its location controls.
The new privacy settings will enable Android users to opt out of location tracking when they aren’t actively using the app and have greater control over how much of their location data is saved by the social media giant. With a new option in place, Android users will now be able to decide whether or not they want Facebook to be aware of their location at all times.
Facebook has previously come under fire for allegedly tracking users it deems a threat to its employees and offices. Facebook has an edge when it comes to keeping tabs on people as it can use its products to mine data on them. While this is a potentially questionable practice, it is worth mentioning that this more about how Android works as Google doesn’t give users the option to decide how their location data can be used.
On the other hand, iOS provides greater controls when it comes to location sharing. iOS users can opt out of sharing location data when an app isn’t being used. That’s why the latest changes wouldn’t affect people using iOS. Moreover, Facebook has also clarified that choices made previously by users will not change as a result of the new update. This means that if your location history was previously toggled on, it will remain on, and if it was off, it will remain that way.
The company is also going to notify its Android app users who had previously turned the location history on about the new settings so they can review them and make changes if required. On the other hand, people who never turned the location history on would not be required to do anything. Facebook has also explicitly said that it would neither collect any new data nor turn any of the related settings on by itself after the new update. Even though the new update will not affect iOS users, Facebook is going to send them a smart alert so they can ensure the current settings are right for them.
Although constant location tracking is considered akin to stalking by some, it also has its own benefits. For instance, Facebook can help people catch up with friends who are nearby or use location data to recommend the fastest route to reach a destination. However, the ball is now in the user’s court, as it will be up to them to decide whether or not they want to be tracked all the time. In the future, this can also extend to other apps, as Android Q would reportedly enable users to deny location access when an app is not being used.