Facebook is worried that users will get worked up about the amount of location data it gathers on them

Even if you're a heavy user, there's little reason to give Facebook permanent access to location data.


Ever the champion of user privacy, Facebook has just published a blog post detailing how and why it gathers so much location data on users.

In the blog, Facebook explains that "Facebook is better with location" and that the data is needed for services that track where you eat, the people you're close to and the Wi-Fi you use. Oh, and the data will also be used to "improve ads" (Not sure how this is beneficial, but we all trust Facebook, right?).

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Ostensibly, Facebook has published this post out of deep concern for users who might be flustered by the privacy focused features being introduced in Android 10 and iOS 13. The post explains how the features work and how users can make the 'right' choice.

In Android 10, which arrived a few days ago on Pixel devices and which will probably arrive on your not-a-Pixel in the next couple of years, users will have app-specific location sharing settings.

Even if your global settings allow for apps to access location data at any time, you can restrict just Facebook from accessing location data at all times.

Facebook is worried that users will get worked up about the amount of location data it gathers on them

Do you really trust Facebook to safely handle your privacy?

In iOS 13, which is expected to be shown off on 10 September at the iPhone launch event, you'll be given a detailed summary of when and where an app accessed your data. You'll also be able to control how apps access your data via options that limit background location sharing to single use, only when the app is open, or all the time.

Even if you're a heavy Facebook user, there's little reason to give Facebook's apps (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp) permanent access to location data. If you're even vaguely concerned about privacy, and you still have to use Facebook for some reason, disable access and give the app one-time permission for the instances when you have to explicitly share location data. When you have to share your location with a friend, for example.

Facebook will give Android users more control over how some of their location data is harvested.

Facebook will give Android users more control over how some of their location data is harvested. Image: Facebook

At the very least, restrict location access to when the app is running. This will at least limit the amount of data that apps, not just Facebook apps, gather on you.

Also note that Facebook very carefully states in its blog that only the "precise location" is not shared when you restrict access. Facebook is still collecting background information on your location based on a number of factors, including the location of the Wi-Fi network you're using.