Android Users: Check This Facebook Location Privacy Setting ASAP

On Wednesday, Facebook introduced a new privacy setting for Android users. Previously, if you had Location History turned on, the app could track you in the background. In other words, even if you didn’t have the app open, it knew where you were. Now, you can stop it from doing so. And you should.

The change applies to Android only, because iOS users already had that granularity, thanks to default iOS location permissions that let you specify whether you want an app to track your location always, only when you’re using it, or never. Android’s location permission is binary; an app either can or can’t access it. Facebook would tap into that data to feed features like Nearby Friends, which is pretty self-explanatory, and presumably its formidable advertising apparatus as well.

“If you enabled this setting, two things happened: You would share your location when you weren’t using the app and you would allow Facebook to store a history of your precise locations,” Facebook engineering director Paul McDonald wrote in a post announcing the change. Facebook says it’s making the change to improve on Android’s “all or nothing” location rubric.

To limit Facebook’s awareness of your whereabouts, tap on the hamburger icon in the upper-right corner, then Settings & Privacy > Settings > Location > Location Settings. From there, you should see a new option called Background Location, which you can toggle off. (If you already had Location History turned off, nothing changes.) Facebook will also be inserting a notice into your News Feed to alert you to the change and offering a link to manage settings. The update is still rolling out, so you may not see the notice or the new settings quite yet.

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“We made the update because over time we heard feedback from people using Facebook on an Android device that they wanted easy-to-understand incremental control in addition to the device ‘on’ ‘off’ options,” Facebook spokesperson Rochelle Nadhiri said in an email.

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