Sunday 18 March 2018

Facebook is using your phone's location to suggest new friends

The Facebook office will be powered entirely by wind energy Photo: AFP/Getty Images
The Facebook office will be powered entirely by wind energy Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Cara McGoogan

People often find themselves disconcerted when they look at the people Facebook thinks they should add as friends.

Facebook users have expressed concern that the company could be using the location tracking tool in their phone to locate people they should be friends with.

In response, the company has not denied that it uses location to suggest friends to its users. But it explained that it doesn't rely on location data when compiling "People you may know".

Read more:  Facebook launches secret football game - here's how to access it

"Location is only one of the factors we use to suggest people you may know," said a spokesman for Facebook.

"We often suggest people you may know based on things you have in common, like mutual friends, places you’ve visited, or the city you live in. But location information by itself doesn’t indicate that two people might be friends."

Other factors that Facebook considers when suggesting friends include work and education information, networks you're a part of and imported contacts.

Read more: Facebook removes pro-Brexit status update after being accused of bias

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.

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.

To stop Facebook from suggesting friends to you based on who you have been near, turn off the location settings in the app's permissions.

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.




Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business