9to5Mac reports that Facebook has stopped several services that track your real-time location, including Nearby Friends and weather alerts. Facebook sent a notification to users who have used the feature before. It stated that it would stop collecting data related to these features on May 31st, and will wipe all stored data on August 1. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, confirmed the news to The Verge. “While we are removing some location-based features from Facebook due to low usage,” spokesperson Emil Vazquez stated in an email statement.
However, this doesn’t mean Facebook will stop collecting any location data. Facebook stated in a note to users that it will “continue to collect location information for other experiences” in order to serve relevant ads and location check ins in accordance with its data policy. Any location data saved by Facebook can be viewed, downloaded, or deleted from the Settings and Privacy menu. Facebook will delete all data associated with its discontinued services automatically if you don’t.
I doubt many of us will be disappointed to see these features go. It doesn’t seem like many people rely on Facebook for weather updates these days. Nearby Friends, a Facebook feature introduced in 2014, allowed you to share your current location with your friends and vice versa. This allows you to arrange in-person hangouts. Its popularity declined over the years as similar features like Snapchat’s SnapMap and Apple’s Find My Friends took hold.
Facebook’s track record in protecting users’ data is not the best. It’s therefore more relief that they are removing these location-based features. After a report that showed Facebook tracked the locations of users who made “credible” threats, Facebook began allowing Android users to turn off background location tracking. Apple already allows users to turn off location tracking for certain apps.
You can find the complete message from Facebook to users here
We’re notifying you because you have used Nearby Friends or Weather alerts in the past. These products and features will be no longer available after May 31, 2022. Even if you previously enabled them, any information you shared, including Background Location and Location History, that was used to create these experiences will cease to be collected after May 31, 2022. Facebook will continue to collect location information for other experiences, as described in our Data Policy.
Make sure to update your settings
You can update your location history and background settings in the Facebook app until May 31, 2022. After that date, the settings are removed.
Accessing your location history
You can view and delete your existing Location History information by accessing your information. If you do not act, your existing Location History information is automatically deleted.