Nearby friends new on Facebook’s map

Puppies. Politics. Birthday wishes. Giant stacks of pancakes.

You already share a lot on Facebook. Now you can share even more with Nearby Friends, a new mobile feature being rolled out in the U.S. for iPhone and Android.

I like to describe Nearby Friends as a mashup of Facebook, Foursquare and Apple’s Find My Friends app. At a minimum, it allows you to let your friends know your geographic location, but you can drill down and let specific people know your precise location for a set period of time.

If you don’t already have it, you should see it soon. Here are a few key details to know:

The feature is optional

Facebook is going out of its way to stress the fact that Nearby Friends is optional, and that’s a smart move. Facebook knows its users are big sticklers when it comes to privacy, so it doesn’t want to roll out a feature that is overshadowed by those concerns. You can turn the Nearby Friends feature on and off at any time, but to get started you must turn it on. Click on “More.” If Nearby Friends is available you’ll see it there.

The feature is for friends only

It’s called Nearby Friends, not Nearby Acquaintances or Nearby Friends of Friends. You must be friends with the person/people with whom you want to use the feature. And if you have thousands of friends and would rather keep it more personal, you can limit sharing to close friends or a specific list.

How much you share is your call

When you turn on the feature, your friends will be able to see your general location. So this is a really good time to make sure you know who your friends are. If you friended someone and don’t know them, move them to another list or unfriend them. But general location is different than precise location. Once the feature is turned on, then you can decide if you want to share a precise location with a specific friend. You can even limit the sharing of that precise location down to a set period of time (i.e. until 5 p.m.)

location is secret

You could always know where a loved one is by granting them indefinite access. Or, know where to meet someone after work by specifying a limited amount of time. To activate exact location, look for the familiar GPS triangle icon next to your friends’ name in the Nearby Friends list. If you want to stop the broadcast immediately, click on the icon again and select “Stop Sharing This.”


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