According to some inside sources who spoke with Bloomberg, Facebook is working on a new mobile app that will allow you to track the location of your friends in real time. Facebook hasn’t made any official announcements about the app yet, but it’s hard to imagine the company not building something like this.
It’s a natural extension of Facebook’s existing functionality. Such an app could offer users a way to utilize information like status updates, photo and video uploads, check-ins, and event data in the real world. Who’s nearby? What are they doing? Any chance they’d like some company? You can already glean all this information manually by checking in on your friends’ pages. The new mobile app would provide a more passive route to the same destination.
Like Facebook Graph Search, a real time location tracking app has the potential to be very handy. But it also raises the usual privacy concerns since there’s quite clearly the possibility of some creepiness being perpetrated, too. The combination of a Facebook location feature and the recently launched and controversial app Bang With Friends might even land one or both companies in serious legal trouble.
That’s not a problem that would be unique to Facebook, either. Plenty of other apps — like Google Latitude, Apple’s Find My Friends, and Foursquare’s Radar feature offer identical functionality.
If Facebook is going to get in on the action and build an app that lets you track your friends’ whereabouts (and vice versa), they’re going to offer additional privacy controls. Far too many critical eyes are watching Zuckerberg and Co. for such slip-ups these days, and extra attention has been paid to ensure that controls are in place before new features have launched in recent times. Presumably an app like this would only allow actual friends to view your location, not friends-of-friends.
Still, for a lot a Facebook users that could cause problems. Not everyone is all that selective about who gets added to that top tier, after all. If you have a massive friend list and hear something more official announced about a location tracking app, it might be time to take a look at who you’ve welcomed into your inner circle.