Facebook Won't Use Data from New Friend Location Tool for Ads

Company Is Mum on Details for Future Uses of Location Data from Nearby Friends Feature

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Facebook's latest feature allows people to share their location with friends, but don't expect to be able to use the data to target ads anytime soon.

"The answer is no, we are not using data from Nearby Friends or Location History to target ads right now," said a Facebook spokesperson. "Currently, advertisers can target ads based on location. To determine location, we use things like people's current city that they list on their profiles, and their IP address. We do not currently target ads to people based on GPS coordinates."

As is the norm with Facebook, the company is rolling out the new feature but not discussing details on data gathering, ad targeting or other applications that could be facilitated by the location-based tool down the road.

The feature allows friends to see which city or neighborhood other friends who have opted-in to expose the information are visiting. The concept is similar to the early promise of Foursquare, in that it should enable Facebook users to meet nearby buddies in-person. However, it doesn't involve check-ins at specific locations, or unlock discounts at businesses, something that drives Foursquare use.

The system lets people share information about a general area they're traveling in, or expose a precise location to friends, as well as determine the amount of time that information can be shared.

Facebook marketers are always seeking better data that gauges the level of friendship among people in their networks, rather than simply information that shows someone is just a friend.

While the new location feature could layer in more information that helps refine levels of closeness among friends, the company already has plenty of data to categorize friendships, namely from messaging and commenting frequency.

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