If you use Facebook on your mobile device, were you bothered by the Find Friends Nearby feature recently added to the app? Some found it a little creepy, knowing that if you were using Facebook, those in your area could find and friend request you, even if you don’t know them. Don’t worry, the site has removed the feature entirely just as quickly as it was released.
The program relied on your phone’s GPS location technology, helping you find friends logged on in your area. If you chose to use this feature, a list would be compiled of anyone nearby who have Facebook’s mobile app open on their device, whether iOS or Android. It was a great way to add a friend you might be at a club or party with right on the spot. I’m sure we’ve all met someone who said, “Yes, I am on Facebook, go ahead and add me when you get home” only to be faced with a slew of namesakes making it almost impossible to add them. I searched for days for a mom of one of my daughter’s softball teammates before giving up and having her add me instead. This Find Friends Nearby feature would have made it easy to do right there on the softball field.
The feature was released on June 24 by the engineers at Facebook who created it, Facebook itself yanked the feature the very next day. It was originally to be called ‘Friendshake’ rather than Find Friends Nearby, and was likely pulled due to the potential privacy issues it posed. Just imagine the information strangers may be able to gather from this seemingly harmless feature. Sometimes, just a name is all that’s needed to discover more about them, even if their friend request is denied.
Facebook initially had no comment when the Find Friends Nearby feature was released, but when it was disabled, Facebook says that this sort of thing happens often, for no reason other than “This wasn’t a formal release – this was something that a few engineers were testing,” according to a spokeswoman for Facebook. “With all tests, some get released as full products, others don’t.”
It remains to be seen whether or not Find Friends Nearby will ever reappear within the Facebook app. Facebook has no comment as to their intentions, but promises to inform users in the future if they do decide to re-release it.