Facebook has stopped sending constant location information to anyone a person chatted to on its Messenger app, instead letting users choose when to send a map showing where they are.
Before, every message sent over Messenger included precise location information, unless users had expressly turned it off. But now users can choose when to share their location, by clicking on the “more” option at the bottom of the screen and choosing the “Location” button.
Facebook presented the move as a feature, describing it as “a brand new way to send a location as part of a conversation in Messenger”. But it made clear that it was “in place of” the old feature, which
The constant location sharing became controversial last week when a Chrome extension called “Marauders’ Map” showed how easy it was to take all of the location information revealed by Facebook Messenger and turn it into a “creepily” accurate picture of where a person had been during their day. At the time that was released, its manufacturer said that he had heard from Facebook that it was “working to fix the issue”.
Stan Chudnovsky, the company’s head of product for Messenger, said that the new update let users have “full control over when and how you share your location information”. Users can still use the location service to show where they are if they’re running late, for instance, but it won’t be constantly broadcasting every time someone sends a message.
“Sending a location is completely optional,” Chudnovsky wrote in the blogpost announcing the new feature. “Messenger does not get location information from your device in the background—only each time you select a location and tap Send when you use the Messenger app. We are not requesting any new permissions for your information.”