Every app installed on your smartphone with permission to access location service “can” continually collect your real-time location secretly, even in the background when you do not use them.
Do you know? — Installing the Facebook app on your Android and iOS smartphones automatically gives the social media company your rightful consent to collect the history of your precise location.
If you are not aware, there is a setting called “Location History” in your Facebook app that comes enabled by default, allowing the company to track your every movement even when you are not using the social media app.
So, every time you turn ON location service/GPS setting on your smartphone, let’s say for using Uber app or Google Maps, Facebook starts tracking your location.
Users can manually turn Facebook’s Location History option OFF from the app settings to completely prevent Facebook from collecting your location data, even when the app is in use.
However, unfortunately, disabling Location History would also break some Facebook features that rely on location data like checking into a nearby location, tagging locations in an uploaded photo or while using Nearby Friends, a feature that lets friends share their locations with each other.
When talking about iOS, Apple offers its users more control over such situations at device level where users don’t want to completely stop an app from using location, allowing them to choose if an app can also access location data in the background or not.
However, people using Facebook on Android have an all-or-nothing option when it comes to location sharing, which means either they have to grant Facebook full access to their location data or completely prevent the social network from seeing your location at all, without any option for accessing your location data only when the app is open.
How to Stop Facebook From Tracking You When Not in Use
Facebook has finally changed this behavior by introducing a new privacy setting to its Android app, giving users more explicit, granular control over background collection of their location data.
Here’s how you can prevent Facebook from tracking your location when the app is not in use:
- Open the Facebook app on your Android smartphone
- Go to the Settings menu on the top right corner (looks like this ☰)
- Tap on Settings & Privacy
- Choose Privacy Shortcuts
- Select Manage your location settings
- Now, toggle “Background Location” to OFF
If you enable this setting, two things will happen—”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.”
“We’re not making any changes to the choices you’ve previously made nor are we collecting any new information as a result of this update,” Facebook’s post reads.
“For people who previously chose to turn their Location History setting ‘on,’ the new background location setting is ‘on.’ For people who had turned Location History ‘off’ – or never turned it on in the first place – the new background location setting is ‘off.'”
With this update, Facebook gives users a dedicated way to choose whether or not to share their location when they are not using the social media app.
iOS users need not worry about such features, as Apple already offers iPhone users an option to block an app from using their location in the background when the app is not open.
If you are an iPhone user and have not already stop Facebook—or any other app—from tracking your location in the background, you can follow these simple steps:
- Go to Settings
- Select Privacy
- Choose “Location Services”
- If you want to completely stop all apps from tracking you, turn Location Services off. If you want to limit this setting depending on every app, tap each app and choose “Never” or “While Using.”
Make sure apps that don’t require your location, like most games, photo sharing apps and editors, are set to “Never.”
Meanwhile, Facebook is also sending out alerts to both Android and iOS users, asking them to review their location settings.