Letting your friends know where you are to have an impromptu meet-up is a nice idea and something that a number of social networks have tried, with varying success.

Facebook views Snapchat’s implementation of the feature as one of the better examples of how it should be done. Given that Facebook’s own attempt to get its user-base sharing their location with friends on the platform, hasn’t been so successful, Facebook is borrowing a few ideas as part of a confirmed test.

If you’re familiar with Snap Map, then you’ll recognise a lot of what appears in the test. Like Snap Map, the new Facebook interface for sharing your location will be an opt-in feature. The important point of difference is where Snap Map can provide specific location details, Facebook has been more cautious and made the location details much broader.

The ‘Nearby Friends’ feature on Facebook was never particularly popular but a lot has changed since it was first introduced. We’re not that far from news of Cambridge Analytica and it was only a few days ago that millions of profiles were affected by a data breach. Expecting users to be receptive to sharing personal information such as their location in real-time while so much negative press coverage is still front of mind seems like poor timing.

It has to be noted that there is a generation of young adults that are so used to data breaches, hacks and misuse of personal data, that they’ve become numb to the warnings and are at the point where they accept it all as part of modern life. They may be right.

It’s also worth noting that this is a test of a new interface which may never be rolled out to the general public. If it is, then you can expect that somewhere down the line, marketers would be able to dynamically geo-target their audience, further enhancing the effectiveness of advertising on Facebook.

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