Opinion Brief

Facebook's 'Find Friends Nearby': A creepy new way to meet people?

The social network is rolling out an optional new service that connects you with like-minded strangers hanging out in your vicinity

Facebook has quietly rolled out a new feature called "Find Friends Nearby" (originally called "Friendshake") that, as its name suggests, allows users to more easily discover potential pals in the real world. Users can access the feature from http://fb.com/ffn or by navigating through their Android or iPhone's Facebook app. (Learn how here.) Once you agree to share your location, the names of friends and potential friends in the same small geographic area pop up. The thinking goes that like-minded people attend similar events in similar places. Will Find Friends Nearby catch on, or will its arguably sketchy premise have users crying foul?

This is so creepy: There's definitely a "dark side to this thing," says Brent Rose at Gizmodo. Imagine: You're out at a bar, and some creep "opens the app, can kinda recognize your face from your profile picture, and now said creeper knows your name and possibly some of your personal info." Facebook will probably add more privacy safeguards, but the social network "doesn't have the most sterling of records when it comes to these things." Be careful.
"Friendshake is Facebook's new way to "friend" the people around you"

But this app is only for willing participants: This is not like "Girls Around Me," the controversial stalker app that culled the Facebook profiles of nearby women without their permission, says Andrew Birmingham at CIO. You have to opt in to Facebook's new service. So if you sign up for Find Friends Nearby, you've clearly decided that you're open to meeting new people. You're not some unwilling participant in a sketchy game of cat and mouse. That's key.
"Monday Grok: Facebook's Friendshake is nothing like Girls Around Me, promise"

And Facebook needs it to grow: Facebook is "furthering its reach into mobile," which has long been a weakness for the social network, says Ingrid Lunden at TechCrunch. And to succeed, Facebook needs to create services like Find Friends Nearby to help users meet new people "rather than building up more connectivity with the ones you already know." Find Friends Nearby is obviously a work in progress, but at its most basic, it's clearly in keeping with Facebook's lofty goal to be as "ubiquitous as possible."
"Find Friends Nearby': Facebook's new mobile feature for finding people around you [updated]"

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