Useful or creepy? Facebook launches friend-tracking feature

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Your phone always knows where you are. And now, if you want, your Facebook friends will always know where you are, too.

Facebook is introducing a mobile feature called Nearby Friends that taps into that steady stream of location information so friends can track each other in real time.

The idea is to make it easy for people to meet up in real life, so they can have conversations in person instead of comment threads, temporarily replacing Likes and LOLs with eye contact and actual laughter. A live meet-up is also an excellent opportunity to grab a selfie with your pal and upload it to the Facebook owned Instagram.

In a refreshing change, the new Nearby Friends feature is not turned on by default.

Friends will not be able to see where you are unless you decide live-tracking is something you want in your life and visit Facebook’s settings to turn it on. Making a potentially invasive new feature opt-in suggests Facebook has perhaps learned from some of its past mistakes and privacy problems.

You can choose to share your general location with all your Facebook friends, close friends or a customized list of people you feel most comfortable with.

Further minimizing the potential stalking factor, your location is only shared with other people who are also using the feature and who have chosen to share their location with you.