With the arrival of iOS 13 and Android 10, Facebook is preemptively warning users that location settings are about to change and it’s surely just trying to help you out.
Android 10 gives users more insight into what apps can access their smartphone’s exact location. Before Android 10, users only had an on/off toggle for location settings—and Facebook’s app had a workaround so you could control whether it was sharing your location while the app was running in the background. So say your setting was toggled on, you could then choose within the Facebook app to deny location data access when you weren’t using it.
Android 10 will give users more options, including the ability to restrict or allow location data access when an app is running in the background. So there’s the potential for confusion as to what data is being shared if there’s a mismatch between your Android 10 and Facebook settings.
“To address this issue, Facebook will continue to respect your most restrictive settings choice,” Facebook says in a blog. Meaning, if Android 10 defaults to giving Facebook location data “all the time,” but you don’t have Facebook’s background location setting on, the app won’t collect your location data when you’re not using it. Or, if you choose to deny Facebook any location data in Android 10, but have the Facebook background setting on, the app still won’t collect your data. In essence, this is a PSA to reassure Facebook isn’t going to do anything shady while most Android users wait for the Android 10 update.
iOS users have already had this option for a while now. What’s different with iOS 13 is it’s adding a “allow once” function with regard to location data. iOS 13 will also send notifications to users about when an app is accessing your location, and how many times that app has done so. The notifications will also include a map of what location data an app received.
So if you update and wonder why you’re getting a bunch of prompts regarding location data, this is why.
In its blog, Facebook writes that the platform is “better with location” as it enables features like check-ins, and more dubiously “helps improve ads and keep you and the Facebook community safe.”
Other features like Find Wi-Fi and Nearby Friends utilize your precise GPS location, regardless of whether you’re currently using the app. Of course, all that convenience comes at the expense of your privacy—and as Facebook willingly admits, its ability to target ads. (Plus, we all know Facebook’s really great with your private data right?) But it’s not just Facebook. Other apps will likely follow suit, and make similar cases as to why you should allow the app to access your location data.
But maybe don’t? Or at least, when a prompt pops up, give a second thought with regard to how much location data you’re handing over to companies with terrible track records with user privacy.