It appears Facebook is trying to get ahead of the sweeping changes to location access coming in Apple’s iOS 13 — expected later this month — and Android 10 — which has already hit some devices.
In a blog post published by the social network’s location platform engineering director, Paul McDonald, Facebook outlined how the new location settings will affect its app, users and details some upcoming changes.
On the iOS 13 side, McDonald writes that Facebook users will see a new option for location access: ‘allow once.’ This joins the current options, ‘always,’ ‘only when the app is in use’ and ‘never.’ Essentially, users will be able to let Facebook access their devices’ location information only once, along with granting constant access, access only when using Facebook or no access at all.
McDonald also notes that iOS 13 will notify users when an app uses precise location information in the background. The notification includes how many times an app accessed that data, a map of the location data received by the app and an explanation of why that app used that information.
CNBC notes that the blog post seems to be a way for Facebook to get out ahead of the location details that iOS 13 will provide users, as knowing the full extent that Facebook tracks you could be unsettling.
Android 10 improves location access permissions
Android 10 also expands on users’ ability to control how apps access their location information. It adds more fine-grained control over individual apps’ access to location, along with an iOS-like option to only allow location access when an app is in use.
McDonald writes in the blog post that this could be confusing for people who already use the Facebook app’s ‘background location’ setting. For those unfamiliar with the feature, Facebook added it to its Android app so users could turn off Facebook’s access to location data when the app wasn’t in use.
Since Facebook’s in-app location setting and Android 10’s location setting could potentially conflict — one is set not to use background data while the other is — McDonald writes that the app will respect the stricter setting.
Additionally, Facebook will phase out the in-app setting for Android 10 and replace it with a reminder to check the device location settings.
Finally, the blog post maintains that Facebook gives control over who sees your location to users.
“You can control whether your device shares precise location information with Facebook via Location Services, a setting on your phone or tablet,” writes McDonald.
However, he also notes that Facebook “may still understand your location using things like check-ins, events and information about your internet connection.”