There are plenty of ways to hunt down free public Wi-Fi in your area, and you can now add the Facebook mobile app to that list. It’s dead easy to use, but it does come with a price: constantly sharing your location with the social networking giant.
Tap the hamburger menu button and you should see Find Wi-Fi as one of the menu options listed. If you don’t already have location services enabled on Facebook, you should see a message requiring you to allow Facebook to Always access your location. This means that the Facebook app can access your location even when you’re not using the app. In addition to privacy concerns, this could also be a bit of a drain on your battery.
Facebook justifies this access, saying that it allows them to “build a history of precise locations received through Location Access on your device,” and you can delete this information from your Activity Log on your profile.
Internet security company Avast points out some potential safety concerns to keep in mind if you plan to use this feature, while also promoting it’s own free Wi-Fi finder that also scans public Wi-Fi networks for security threats.
If the Facebook app benefits outweigh the concerns, tap the Set to Always button to adjust your settings. Once you’ve granted the Facebook app access, you can view all nearby locations with free Wi-Fi either as a list or on a map.
The list view is particularly useful as it gives you information on walking distance, hours, and even the name of the network. The app doesn’t provide a comprehensive list of all free, public networks in your neighborhood as businesses have to opt-in to be listed.
Technically, you can enable location services, find a Wi-Fi hotspot, and revert to your preferred location services. And as always, when using public Wi-Fi, you should be aware of the risks involved, and take the necessary precautions where you can.
What do you think of Facebook’s public Wi-Fi feature? Will you be using it? Do you think the location services settings are justified for what you’re getting in return? Let us know in the comments.