Facebook has tweaked its Android app to give you a bit more control over your privacy.
A new update to Facebook's Android app adds an option that lets you turn off location sharing even when the app isn't running. Prior to this update, Android users of the app had no way to tell Facebook to stop tracking their location once the app was no longer open or active.
Why the need for this new option? Blame it on Android. Apple's iOS gives you three choices over how to share your location with an app. You can opt to never share it, to always share it, or to share it only when the app is open. Android is hampered by an all-or-nothing approach. You can either prevent an app from accessing your location all the time or give it full access to your whereabouts, even when the app isn't running.
As one example, if you opt to use the Nearby Friends option, which lets you share your location with people you know, you give Facebook permission to track your movements even if you're not actively using the app. That option also had given Facebook the ability to keep a history of all the places you've been.
"Until today, people using these features were asked to enable Location History." Facebook said in a news release. "If you enabled this setting, two things happened: you would share your location when you weren't using the app and you would allow Facebook to store a history of your precise locations. With this update, you'll have a dedicated way to choose whether or not to share your location when you aren't using the app."
The new feature follows a report from CNBC that Facebook had been using its own app and website to track the location of users that the company felt posed a threat to its employees and offices. But several former employees questioned the ethical implications of this type of security maneuver, with one person referring to the tactic as "very Big Brother-esque," according to CNBC.
"For people who previously chose to turn their Location History setting 'on,' the new background location setting is 'on,'" Facebook explained. "For people who had turned Location History 'off' or never turned it on in the first place - the new background location setting is 'off.'"
You can check to see if the feature is on or off and turn if off if desired. With Facebook open on your Android device, tap the hamburger icon in the upper right. Swipe down the screen and tap the entry for Settings & Privacy. Tap Privacy Shortcuts and then select the option to Manage your location settings. Look for a setting that says Background Location and turn it off.
The Background Location setting is just now rolling out to Facebook's Android app. If you don't yet see it, keep checking the app periodically until it appears. Facebook is also alerting people who turned on Location History in the past to tell them about the new control and ask them to check and change their settings if necessary.
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- Facebook users on Android can now disable location sharing when the app isn't running.
- The new option follows a CNBC report that Facebook had used its own app to track the location of people it considered a threat to its employees and offices.
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