Location, location, location – guess who’s watching?

Location, location, location – guess who’s watching?

Did you know that any app you install that asks permission to access location service could potentially be constantly collecting your real-time location information without your knowledge – even when minimized or when the phone is not in use?

For instance, installing the Facebook app on an Android or iOS smartphone automatically gives the company your consent to keep tabs on your location.

In your Facebook app there is a setting called ‘Location History.’ It is enabled by default and allows the social media giant to track your every movement even when not in use.

This means every time you turn on your location service or GPS on your smartphone, for instance if using Uber or Google maps, Facebook starts tracking your location.

You can manually turn it off, unfortunately this also disables some Facebook features that tend to rely on location data such as sharing your location with friends.

This means, in general users are forced into an all-or-nothing option when it comes to location sharing. Meaning either granting Facebook full access or completely prevent it from seeing your location at all.

Now though, in response to criticism Facebook has introduced a new privacy setting to its Android app. This gives you a more explicit control over the background collection for location data.

We’re not making any changes to the choices you’ve previously made nor are we collecting any new information as a result of this update. For people who previously chose to turn their Location History setting on, the new background location setting is on.

For people who have turned Location History off, or never turned it on in the first place, the new background location setting is off.

- Blog Post: Facebook

In other words, Facebook now gives a user the choice whether or not to share their location when not using the social media app.

So, if you want your Android device to prevent Facebook from tracking your location when the app is not in use, just follow these simple instructions:

  1. Open the Facebook app on your Android smartphone
  2. Go to the Settings menu
  3. Tap on Settings & Privacy
  4. Choose Privacy Shortcuts
  5. Select Manage your location settings
  6. Toggle ‘Background Location’ to OFF

Doing this means you will no longer share your location when you’re not using the app and Facebook will no longer able to store a history of your locations.

With iOS users you already have this feature available. So, if you own an iOS smartphone but have not enabled the feature here’s what you need to do.

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Select Privacy
  3. Choose Location Services

At this point you have options. If you want to stop all apps from tracking, you turn Location Services off. If you want to limit this setting, then you have the options of choosing Never or While Using. Depending on your preferences.

Image: Intel Free Press


A veteran freelance journalist writing extensively on internet news and cybersecurity.
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