Facebook removes some location tracking features due to ‘low usage’

Facebook is shutting down several services that track your real-time location — including nearby friends, weather alerts, location history, and background location — due to “low usage,” as noted by 9to5Mac† In a notification sent to people who have used the feature in the past, Facebook says it will stop collecting data associated with these features on May 31 and will erase all stored data on August 1.

Facebook parent company Meta confirmed the news to The edge† “While we are doing away with some location-based features on Facebook due to low usage, people can still use Location Services to manage how their location information is collected and used,” spokesperson Emil Vazquez said in an emailed statement.

However, this does not mean that Facebook will stop collecting location data altogether. As stated in the note to users, Facebook says it will “continue to collect location information for other experiences” to serve relevant ads and location check-ins in accordance with its data policy. You can view, download or delete any location data the platform has stored in the Settings and Privacy menu. Otherwise, Facebook will automatically delete all stored data related to the discontinued services on August 1.

I don’t think many of us will be sad when these features disappear. (It seems that not too many people rely on Facebook for weather alerts these days). Friends Nearby, which Facebook introduced in 2014, enabled the Facebook app to share your real-time location with your friends — and vice versa — for the purpose of arranging personalized hangouts with people near you. Its popularity understandably declined over the years after similar features, such as Snapchat’s Snap Map and Apple’s Find My Friends, took hold.

Since Facebook doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to securing users’ data, it’s actually more of a relief that Facebook is removing these location-based features. Facebook had users on Android turn off background location tracking in 2019 after a report revealed that Facebook tracked users’ locations if they posed a “credible” threat. (Apple already let users turn off location tracking for specific apps.)

You can read Facebook’s full message to users here:

Because you’ve previously used Nearby Friends, Weather Alerts, Location History, or Background Location, we’re letting you know that these products and features will no longer be available after May 31, 2022. Information you’ve shared and used for these experiences, including Location History and Background Location, will no longer be collected after May 31, 2022, even if you’ve enabled them before. Otherwise, Facebook will continue to collect location data for other experiences, as described in our data policy.

Update your settings

You can update your current Location History and Background Location settings in the Facebook app until May 31, 2022. After this date, the settings will be disabled.

Access your location history

To view or delete your existing location history, you can access and download your data before August 1, 2022. If you don’t do anything after this date, your existing location history data will be deleted automatically.

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