[Update: Phasing Out in Android 10] Facebook for Android gets a new Background Location setting
Facebook isn’t exactly the most trustworthy company in the tech industry. It is no secret that they collect lots of metrics from various platforms including the web, mobile, ads, and more. To their credit, they’ve been trying to be a little bit more transparent and give back some control over your information. While Facebook may not be as regulated as some of us would like, it’s still a generous improvement over the times before GDPR. Arguably the most concerning subject to the users (and US Congress) is location tracking. I think it’s fair to have a right to know when a certain application is tracking you. Apparently, Facebook is going to give users more location tracking settings.
The company just announced that they are bringing more controls of location to the Android app. They explained that while iOS offers more robust and categorized options for managing location tracking, Android only has an on/off switch. This is obviously a concern for a lot of users. Coming soon, there will be a new option in the Location settings. Users will have three choices:
- Let Facebook always track your location.
- New: Let Facebook track your location only when the application is running (disables background location tracking).
- Completely turn off all location tracking.
Thankfully, this will not be another silent update. Facebook will advise users who previously chose to turn on Location History to look into the new settings. As I’ve already mentioned, previously, you could only enable or disable the location tracking via the Facebook app or Android’s native permissions. You couldn’t really define the app’s behavior when it came to background tracking. Coincidentally, Android Q will offer the same functionality system-wide. To put in short, you’ll be able to select from “allow all the time” or “allow while the app is in use” when you open an application requiring a certain permission (in this case, a location). You can read more about it in our exclusive Android Q sneak peek.
Update: Phasing Out in Android 10
One of the best new features in Android 10 is the location permission settings. You can now choose to allow an app to access your location only when the app is open. Facebook added this same feature to its app early this year, but now it’s unnecessary with the new setting in Android 10. Facebook will respect your “most restrictive” setting, whether that’s in the app or the Android system level. And to make things simpler, they will begin phasing out the option in the app and rely solely on Android’s settings.