Facebook denies using your phone's location data to suggest new friends
Published 29/06/2016 | 07:49
Facebook has denied that it uses location data when suggesting people that its users should add as friends.
The company was forced to deny that it is using the tracking tool to feed its "People you may know" feature after reports that users were being recommended people they had never spoken to, but may have passed at an event or in a coffee shop.
Facebook originally said that location data, such as places visited and city lived in, was among a number of things that informed the recommended friends feature. Other factors include mutual friends, workplace, education and networks that you're associated with.
But the company later denied that location wasn't actually a factor used to suggest people you may know.
"We’re not using location data, such as device location and location information you add to your profile, to suggest people you may know," said a spokesman for Facebook. "We may show you people based on mutual friends, work and education information, networks you are part of, contacts you’ve imported and other factors."
This isn't the first time that users have questioned whether Facebook is exploiting the permissions users give it to invade their privacy. It recently denied that it is listening to users' phone calls to target adverts after fears were sparked that the network was using microphones to track its users.
How to stop Facebook using location to suggest friends
Facebook uses location permissions for a number of features, including tagging the place a photo or status was posted, and for "Nearby Friends", an opt-in feature that lets users see if any of their friends are in the vicinity.
You can stop Facebook tracking your location in settings, by changing the app's permissions.
On Android go to Settings -> Application Manager -> Facebook -> Permissions -> turn Location off.
For iOS go to Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services -> Facebook. If you want to stop Facebook tracking your location altogether select Never. To keep the ability to tag a location for posts, but to stop it from following you when the app isn't open select "While using it".
You can also stop Facebook from suggesting your contacts as friends by removing its permission to access contacts, and deleting your phone number from your Facebook account.