Stalkers will love this one. Apparently, Facebook has quietly gone and added a sneaky new ‘radar’ feature to their mobile website and apps, called “Find Friends Nearby.” As expected, the new feature does exactly what it claims – it allows Facebook users to look up who’s nearby and add them as friends.
Somewhat intriguingly, given the rather ‘stealthy’ nature of the new feature, Facebook seemingly forgot to inform anyone about the new update, which was only spotted when TechCrunch was tipped off by a developer.
Find Friends Nearby is available for both the Android and iOS Facebook apps. To access it, you’ll first of all need to authorize your browser or app to access your current location. Once that’s done, simply go to the main menu then hit Apps > Find Friends > Other Tools > Find Friends Nearby. Once there (presuming other Facebook users are in fact nearby you and have the same page open), you should see a list of people who are ‘on your radar’, so to speak.
At a first glance, the feature would seem to be useful – for example, if you’ve just met someone and want to add them to your Facebook friends, it would seem to be an easy way to find them, instead of having to type in their name and search for them. This would save time scrolling through endless lists of similarly named Facebook users, especially if the person concerned has some boringly common name like ‘John Smith’.
At a second glance however, it’s pretty apparent that the feature is all but useless. Other than those not-so-common occasions when you decide to add someone you’ve just met, what else can it be used for?
For one thing (obviously for privacy reasons), the feature only allows you to see other users who have also opened up that page – and there’s not likely to be that many people sitting around hunting for random passersby, except for a few token weirdoes/perverts/bored people. For female users, especially those displaying an attractive photo, one can imagine that accessing “Find Friends Nearby” is an open invitation to being bombarded with friend requests from random, desperate strangers…
That being said, the feature may just have some potential. Having snapped up and then promptly closed down the Glancee mobile app, which helped users to find people nearby with similar interests, Facebook may just have plans in the pipeline to expand the feature at a later date.
Until then, we’ll likely play with it a couple of times and then ignore it altogether.