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You “Like” the photos of your friends’ babies, comment on their status updates and tag yourself in their photos. Now you can find out where they are IRL (in real life, duh) with “Nearby Friends,” launched on Thursday by Facebook.
The company wants to make this very clear: Nearby Friends is an opt-in service, meaning that your Facebook friends won’t be notified when you’re nearby unless you go into your settings and turn it on. Once you do, you will be notified when friends who have also opted in are close to you.
Imagine the possibilities! You are alone in a coffee shop, scrolling through Instagram photos, when suddenly a Facebook notification pops up telling you that two of your “friends” are about to walk past you. Now you can run out and say, “Facebook told me you were nearby, that is not creepy at all!” or you can hide your face behind a book until they pass.
It’s kind of like the geolocation apps, such as Highlight and Glancee, that were all the rage at South by Southwest in 2012, except instead of just utilizing Facebook, it was actually created by Facebook.
Nearby Friends also lets you share your precise location with particular friends for a set amount of time. That could be useful if you are, say, gambling in Las Vegas and want to split up without losing each other, or if you want to track your significant other’s progress as he or she drives to pick up your Thai food.
The new feature will be available to iOS and Android users in the "coming weeks."