Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Facebook Admits, Then Denies, Using Location Data to Suggest Friends

Kashmir Hill, Fusion:

On Friday, and again on Monday, Facebook told me that it uses smartphone location data to recommend new friends to its users. After I reported this, lots of people said that this explained why certain people had popped up in their “People You May Know” box on Facebook.

[…]

But on Monday night, after lots of negative feedback, Facebook reversed course. A spokesperson told me that the company had dug into the matter further and determined that “we’re not using location data, such as device location and location information you add to your profile, to suggest people you may know.”

I have reportorial whiplash. I’ve never had a spokesperson confirm and then retract a story so quickly. So here’s how we got here.

Let’s assume that the spokesperson is correct in stating that Facebook does not use location data for friend suggestions, and ask yourself how creepy is it that they can be so accurate without that information. Is using location data more of a violation of your privacy? Definitely. But, with Facebook’s level of accuracy and knowledge, does it matter? It seems intrusive either way.