Facebook Friend Tracking: Your Personal GPS

It's enough to make the paranoid careen off the walls.  Facebook has introduced friend-tracking as a way for people to learn their approved friends' locations so that they can meet up with them. On the plus side, if you have friends in a particular area, knowing their locations can take the hassle out of trying to find them.  Facebook does this easily by using the GPS already on your smartphone. 

Stalker Central?

Although there's a bit of a creepiness factor in having your friends pop up where you are, Facebook assures its users that there's nothing to worry about because you opt in to the feature, and you can set who can track you.

Even so, opting in can be disconcerting.  It allows Facebook to monitor your whereabouts even when you're not using the app.  That means that if a friend's account is hacked, someone else could figure out exactly where you are.

Huge Plus Sides for Businesses and Consumers

Those who don't mind the intrusiveness actually do benefit, as do local businesses.  By obtaining your tracking history, Facebook and businesses can figure out where you go and what interests you.  For example, you're in a part of town you're unfamiliar with. It's dinnertime, and you have no idea where you want to eat.  An ad might pop up from a nearby pizzeria with dinner specials and coupons.  Since you eat at pizza places all the time (Facebook knows this.), they can tailor your experience.

It's a win-win scenario for both the business and the consumer. The business gets your business because they have successfully targeted an ad, and you get the convenience and benefits of finding a place to eat at a discount.

Other Benefits for the User and Businesses

Other benefits allow Facebook to custom-tailor posts depending on who is around you. For example, if you're traveling, you may see more posts from news, friends, and businesses in that particular area. According to Techcrunch, they may even suggest nearby events and attractions.

Apparently right now the current locations aren't being used for advertising but will be according to Techcrunch.  The Location History is something that you automatically opt in to with the friend-tracking, and that is definitely something Facebook will use and sell to advertisers. 

How Much Will Facebook Know?

How much exactly will Facebook know?  How easy will it be for people to track where you are even if you opt out? Obviously this can cause concerns for people with privacy issues. Given that there are no firewalls on smartphones, someone with the right software and the wrong intent can do quite a bit of mischief.

With Facebook's seemingly constant changes to its terms of service, it's hard to tell what exactly Facebook will want once the user downloads apps. However, in a world of very little privacy already, maybe tracking a person's movements isn't a big deal anymore.