If you’re an Android user there’s a good chance Facebook can track your location even when you aren’t using the app. And you only have yourself to blame, as you’ve ticked the option to share your location. However, Facebook is now adding more granular controls.
How Location SHaring Works on Android and iOS
Android and iOS differ in a number of different ways, one of which affects location sharing. Apple offers iOS users three options when it comes to sharing their location: “Always,” “Never,” and “While Using”. Android, on the other hand, only offers “On” and “Off”.
This effectively means that while iOS users could prevent Facebook from tracking their location when they weren’t using the app, Android users were essentially giving the social network permission to track them at all times. Probably without realizing it.
Facebook Adds a New Location Sharing Option
On the Facebook Newsroom, Facebook explains the new option for Android users. As well as the usual “Location Services” option, there’s now a new “Background Location” option. Switching that to “Off” will prevent Facebook tracking you when you’re not using the app.
Improving Location Settings on Android https://t.co/zR3WjUwQ1w
— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) February 20, 2019
Facebook is sending an alert to all Android users who have previously turned on “Location History” informing them of the new option to turn off “Background Location”. The social network is also alerting iOS users to make sure they’re happy with their settings.
Facebook is keen to point out that it isn’t “making any changes to the choices you’ve previously made” or “collecting any new information as a result of this update”. In other words, this is an innocent update designed to help people maintain their privacy.
Do You Really Need to Share Your Location?
Personally, I wouldn’t let Facebook know my precise location whether I was using the app or not. But if you make use of that feature, or simply like checking into places on Facebook, at least stop the social network from tracking you when you’re not using the app.
Facebook deserves credit for making this change. Especially as most people don’t seem to be aware the company could see their location at all times. However, Facebook is still a security nightmare, which is why you should manage your Facebook privacy settings.