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No, Facebook Home won’t track your location for ads… unless you let it

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In case you missed it, yesterday Facebook took another step into mobile with the launch of Home, its twist on Android which lets you transform your phone into a people-first device, filling your home screen with a feed of updates from your friends and chat functionality which follows you everywhere. It gives Facebook much more of a presence on your smartphone than the current apps… which is why there were privacy concerns swirling before the launch event was even over.

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Facebook isn’t always happily mentioned in the same breath as the word ‘privacy’, and its latest mobile project has sparked concerns about exactly how much of your data the social network will have access to. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that while the first version, which launches on April 12, will be ad-free, that won’t always be the case, as advertising will follow in the future.

If Facebook uses the information you provide through taps, swipes and GPS about what you share and where you are at certain times, it could push a number of carefully targeted adverts at you, offering you discounts at nearby businesses or tips on where to go for your morning cup of coffee in the area. And those ads could appear on your phone’s home screen.

Speaking to Mashable, a Facebook spokesperson quickly moved to try to allay fears of persistent location tracking, saying that it will not use your phone’s GPS functionality to observe where you are without your permission. It can, however, base any targeted adverts off your recent check-ins and photos, videos and status updates you’ve allowed to include your location, like it can with its other apps and website.

According to the social network’s data use policy, it “may put together your current city with GPS and other location information we have about you to, for example, tell you and your friends about people or events nearby, or offer deals to you that you might be interested in.” There is also a passage in the policy that hints at how much more about you Facebook will be able to understand if you’re interacting with an OS-overlay instead of just a more standard app:

We receive data about you whenever you interact with Facebook, such as when you look at another person’s timeline, send or receive a message, search for a friend or a Page, click on, view or otherwise interact with things, use a Facebook mobile app, or purchase Facebook Credits or make other purchases through Facebook.

Of course, downloading Home, like any other app, is voluntary — it comes pre-installed with the newly announced HTC First, and will be available from Google Play for the HTC One and One X, Samsung Galaxy S III or IV later this month.

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