Facebook Developing New App to Track User’s Location; Gather Data

Facebook will be launching a new app that will track its user’s location and “connect” with other users nearby who share interests or attending the same events, according to Bloomberg News. Facebook’s goal is to build a mobile Facebook experience that helps people connect both over their social network and in real life. The new mobile app will run continuously in the background of the user’s phone and constantly track the user’s location.

Facebook’s motivation for this app is to improve the mobile version of Facebook by capitalizing on the real life interactions that are unique to the experience of a mobile user roaming the real world. Mobile users are using more devices to get online in more places and do nearly everything that can be done on a desktop computer—and sometimes more. The app will share a user’s public information with users who are nearby and share interests or are attending the same event. The app will be constantly collecting data about where a user goes and what the user does. Facebook’s stated goal is to use this to improve the mobile user experience, but they will also be able to use this data to sell ads that are more specifically targeted to users, or to launch location based ads that appear on the mobile Facebook app when a user reaches a certain location.

By running constantly, the new app will be able to foster connections between people who may share interests and further grow the scope of its social network.  Facebook’s existing mobile app already collects data from mobile users who make posts on the go or who check into locations that are on Facebook, but it does not have a built in feature to link people in the same area who may be interested in similar things. The app will use this ability to help users find random people nearby who may be connected by “liking” similar things or are friends with similar people. This is an effort to increase the depth of the Facebook social network, which will in turn increase the strength of the Graph Search. More connections and more data will allow Facebook to offer more relevant results to its users. Facebook has the users; Google+ has the data. The future of social search has yet to be decided, but this is just the most recent move Facebook has made to position itself to ride the growing wave of both mobile users and social search.

By Andrew Wise

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