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Facebook's new 'Find Friends Nearby' feature: Creepy or clever?

Facebook
Duane Hoffmann / msnbc.com
Facebook

Facebook quietly added a new feature to its mobile website and apps this weekend. It's called "Find Friends Nearby" and it ... well, it does exactly what you'd think it might.

TechCrunch's Ingrid Lunden was among the first to call attention to the new feature, after a developer tipped her off.

You can access Find Friends Nearby either through the iOS or Android Facebook apps — just open up the main menu, tap "Apps," select "Find Friends," press "Other Tools," and then pick "Find Friends Nearby" — or by heading to http://fb.com/ffn on your mobile device.

Note that you'll have to authorize either the apps or your browser to access your current location. This doesn't mean that you're allowing either to reveal your location all the time though. As soon as you leave the Find Friends Nearby page, you'll be off the radar once again. (This makes sense because it prevents people from stalking you invisibly or from being stalked without actively choosing to announce their location.)

While you are on the Find Friends Nearby page — it looks the same in the apps and in the browser — you'll be able to find out who happens to be both near you and staring at that same page.

The feature is incredibly convenient if you happen to be chatting with someone in person and want to add him as a Facebook friend. Rather than tapping out his name and wasting minutes scrolling through a list of similarly named individuals, you can just ask your new pal to open up the Find Friends Nearby page and add him with a quick tap.

Opening up the Find My Friends page, while convenient, also exposes you to potential awkward or creepy moments. There is always a chance that someone you are avoiding or not interested in interacting with  will happen to have the same page open — and spot your name. He or she would instantly know that you are nearby and quickly view the public information on your Facebook profile.

So the final verdict? Find Friends Nearby is incredibly convenient, but — like many similar tools — not without potential for disaster. 

Want more tech news, silly puns, or amusing links? You'll get plenty of all three if you keep up with Rosa Golijan, the writer of this post, by following her on Twitter, subscribing to her Facebook posts, or circling her on Google+.