It seems Facebook is in the process of developing an app that tracks the locations of its users. The application, which is expected to be released in March, will be able to track and load your whereabouts in the background and — without being opened — will send your location to nearby friends.
Similar to Foursquare, Highlight and Google’s Latitude, this unnamed app will be Facebook’s standalone attempt to the mobile tracking ‘realm’. To date not many people have joined these applications and Facebook’s 1 billion userbase may make the chances of this app succeeding more likely.
This app will allow Facebook to locate users, map daily routines and ultimately lead to valuable graphs and data for advertisers. This information could be a turning point for companies as it will help them define and understand their target markets. From a business perspective this could be indispensable towards the future of online marketing and social media studies.
On the downside, there is a definite privacy issue as it will locate and notify people about the exact real-time positions of loved ones and friends. Facebook tested a similar app last year called ‘Friends Nearby’ that lets you find out which of your friends are close by. This new ‘unnamed’ tracking application will work similarly to ‘Friends Nearby’ but will give you the choice to opt in or out manually, but the rest of the logistics is still unclear.
Taylor Hatmaker for ReadWrite social sums it up perfectly:
Building out a mobile app that connects the dots of its existing location service into one continuous stream of real-time user location data seems like a no brainer. But how Facebook plans to sweet talk its billion-plus increasingly cynical users into toggling continuous geo-data on is the real question here. It’s a matter of when and how — not if.