New Facebook Mobile Feature Tries to Turn Strangers Into Friends
Find Friends Nearby could lead to lots random connections.
CREDIT: Shutterstock / Kzenon
Ready for your paparazzi moment at the grocery store? Without the usual fanfare, Facebook has added a pretty significant feature to its network. Find Friends Nearby uses GPS to find your friends who are in your immediate area. But here's the catch — these aren't your friends, yet.
"Hey, excuse me, do you want to be Facebook friends?" a guy might ask over the deli case.
Any Facebook member who has the app open on their phone and location services turned on will appear on your list of results, along with an "add as friend" button. (In May, Facebook bought Glancee, another GPS-based "location aware" app. The site closed and its founders joined the Facebook team.)
The feature's developer, Ryan Patterson, said he created Find Friends Nearby for situations where you're "out with a group of people whom you've recently met and want to stay in contact with." But if the people have already met, "Why would anyone use this method of profile discovery instead of just typing in a name?" asked Alex Harrington, CEO of MeetMoi, a mobile "introduction" service (to meet potential dates), in an email to TechNewsDaily.
"It is inevitable that Facebook and other social players (e.g., LinkedIn) move in this direction," Harrington wrote. He expects people to use Find Friends Nearby for business networking and especially for dating. "But Facebook's limitations for dating still apply — users typically don't invite strangers into their friend networks," Harrington wrote.
"My guess is that they'll either scrap it or put less focus on becoming friends and more focus on simply communicating with people nearby," said Lenny Rachitsky, creator of LocalMind, an app that allows you to find and ask people nearby for tips on restaurants, shops or other amenities. [Got a Question? Ask a Local on Your iPhone]
Facebook isn't ready to talk yet. "We are constantly testing new features but have nothing more to share at this time," a spokesperson told us.