Facebook Says Android Users Can Now Share Location Data Without Being Constantly Tracked

Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez (AP)

Facebook, ever the thoughtful steward of our most intimate personal data, announced today that it’s rolling out a feature change for its Android users: those with location sharing turned on will no longer have to continually report their whereabouts to the social network at all times.

Unlike iOS, which has the option to only report location data to specific apps when they’re being used, Android is binary. It sends certain apps that information or it doesn’t. And it should be unsurprising that some of Facebook’s features require location services in order to work properly.


“If you enabled this setting, two things happened: you would share your location when you weren’t using the app and you would allow Facebook to store a history of your precise locations,” today’s press release reads. “With this update, you’ll have a dedicated way to choose whether or not to share your location when you aren’t using the app.” How reassuring.

The social network, which is almost synonymous with mishandling user data at this point, will be alerting anyone who turned on Location History in the past to let them know being surveilled is now slightly more optional.

Of course, Android users still can continually ping Facebook with their exact position, though there are zero compelling reasons why anyone would want to.

Clarification: This piece initially claimed users would be alerted if they had turned on “location services” for Facebook—implying the setting was being changed at the Android level. A Facebook representative helpfully pointed out that the similarly-named feature within Facebook that would have controlled this function is called Location History. They added that “While it is correct that if you had enabled the Android device-level Location Services permission, we would technically have the capability to collect location data while you are not using the Facebook app, it has always been our practice to only collect this information if users have explicitly opted in. That is still the case with this change we are making and we hope the new setting clarifies any confusion around this practice.” We can only imagine you’re all less confused now.


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Bryan Menegus

Senior reporter. Tech + labor /// bgmwrites@gmail.com Keybase: keybase.io/bryangm Securedrop: http://gmg7jl25ony5g7ws.onion/

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