Facebook lets users 'Find Friends Nearby' PDF Print E-mail

The social network's new mobile feature uses location services to suggest new Facebook friends.

Facebook has quietly rolled out a new feature for its iOS and Android apps, allowing users to find fellow Facebook users who are in close vicinity.

The 'Find Friends Nearby' feature was first reported by TechCrunch, as it was found available via the mobile Web. The service is understood to help users add new Facebook friends easily, without having to actually do a proper search using their name.

Before disabling Facebook and running for the hills, users concerned about privacy can be comforted by the fact that they will not appear on the list of people nearby if they are not logged into Facebook and actually have the Find Friends Nearby page open at the time.

The feature can be accessed within the Facebook mobile app (on iOS and Android) by accessing Apps > Find Friends > Other Tools > Find Friends Nearby.

Facebook acquired location app Glancee in May, and it is speculated that the new Find Friends Nearby feature could be a result of the integration of that technology. Glancee was originally created with the intention of helping users discover “hidden connections” around them and to “empower serendipity”.

Glancee went beyond just listing people nearby though, and displayed people with similar interests. Given Facebook`s extensive social graph, it is conceivable that such features could soon be incorporated in Find Friends Nearby.

Minimal friction

While users have to have the page open to be “seen” by others, there is still a privacy risk in that it would be very easy for a user to forget that they have the page open. Facebook has, however, not officially announced the new service, so it could still be tweaked before users are encouraged to start using it.

Following the original news story on TechCrunch that detailed the service, Facebook engineer Ryan Patterson responded saying that he and another engineer developed the feature during a hackathon.

“For me, the ideal use case for this product is the one where when you`re out with a group of people whom you`ve recently met and want to stay in contact with. Facebook search might be effective, or sharing your vanity addresses or business cards, but this tool provides a really easy way to exchange contact information with multiple people with minimal friction.”

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