Facebook denies using your location data to suggest friends

Facebook has denied that it uses location data to power its “people you may know” feature.

The tool, which suggests new friends for Facebook users to connect with, was the focus of a report on privacy on the platform published on Monday. On Tuesday, Facebook emailed over a statement to Digital Trends that alleges the article in question “was not accurate.”

“We’re not using location data, such as device location and location information you add to your profile, to suggest people you may know,” a Facebook spokesperson told Digital Trends. “We may show you people based on mutual friends, work and education information, networks you are part of, contacts you’ve imported and other factors.”

Updated on 06-28-2016 by Saqib Shah: Added statement from Facebook denying use of location data for “people you may know” feature.

You may have come across the “People you may know” feature on Facebook without giving it a second thought. The original report claimed that users were unwittingly allowing the platform to use their location data in order to generate the friend suggestions the tool provides.

When asked to comment on the findings, Facebook was initially quoted as stating that location is “one of the factors” it uses in the process, but the company played down its importance.

“Location information by itself doesn’t indicate that two people might be friends,” the original statement reads. “We show you people based on mutual friends, work and education information, networks you’re part of, contacts you’ve imported and many other factors.”

An update to the report claims that Facebook twice confirmed it used location data as part of the feature. It adds that the negative press in the wake of the article may have caused the social network to backtrack. Facebook claims that it dug into the matter and found that location isn’t currently used. The company clarified that it used location to power the tool in relation to a test it ran last year, which was never rolled out to all Facebook users.

The initial findings basically suggested that Facebook recommended friends based on both your location data (if, of course, you’d activated location services for the Facebook app) and your declared interests, and friends on the service. For example, you could potentially be suggested a complete stranger from a bar you frequent if you both happened to follow the same Facebook group (a fan page for a sports team, for example).

Facebook makes clear in its data policy that it collects your device information, “including specific geographic locations, such as through GPS, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi signals.” It also states that it uses this information “to deliver our Services, personalize content, and make suggestions for you.” It’s all noted in the terms and conditions that most people are averse to reading. Notably, Facebook doesn’t directly address the issue on its “People you may know” help page.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has faced scrutiny over its privacy policy. Earlier this year, the company was forced to remove its AI-powered facial-recognition feature from its Moments app in Europe and Canada due to local privacy laws. The same tool is integral to an ongoing ongoing lawsuit against the social network in the U.S.

Social Media

You can now share saved Facebook posts with a Pinterest-like collection tool

Facebook collections can now be shared with friends if you also want to allow them to contribute to the list. Facebook is rolling out an update that allows users to add a contributor to their collections, or lists of saved Facebook posts.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.
Home Theater

Here’s why you’re not getting Netflix in HD or 4K, and how to fix it

Are you having trouble watching your favorite movies or TV shows on Netflix in HD or 4K? We explain why loading takes so long, why the picture quality fluctuates, and what you can do about it.

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.

Broadway actor tells Kanye West to get off his phone during opening night

Theater actors can get understandably upset when they spot someone in the audience fiddling with their phone instead of watching the show. The other night that audience member was Kanye West, and he got called out for it.
Social Media

This event topped Facebook’s biggest moments of the year — again

As the year comes to a close, Facebook is looking back on what users discussed most over the last year. For two years in a row, International Women's Day topped the list. So what else is on the list?
Social Media

This band owns Twitter, according to list of top accounts and tweets for 2018

What was the biggest buzz on Twitter in 2018? Twitter's 2018 Year in Review highlights the biggest tweets, accounts, and hashtags. The most-tweeted celebrities, movies, TV shows, athletes, politicians and more in Twitter's 2018 trends.
Social Media

What do yodeling and Kylie Jenner have in common? YouTube’s top 2018 videos

In a true nod to the variety found on YouTube, the platform's top 10 list of videos from 2018 range from celebrities to sports, from perfectly tossing a picture frame on the wall to a kid yodeling in aisle 12 at Walmart.
Home Theater

It took Tom Cruise to raise awareness of this troublesome TV setting

Tom Cruise, in an unexpected PSA tweet, asks you to turn off motion interpolation on your TV, but stops short of how to do it. Here's more on the topic, along with links to a guide on how to rid your TV of the dreaded "soap opera effect."

Make a GIF of your favorite YouTube video with these great tools

Making a GIF from a YouTube video is easier today than ever, but choosing the right tool for the job isn't always so simple. In this guide, we'll teach you how to make a GIF from a YouTube video with our two favorite online tools.

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Social Media

Snapchat facial recognition could soon power a new portrait mode, code suggests

Digging into Snapchat's code suggests a handful of upcoming camera features, including a portrait mode. The feature appears to use facial recognition A.I. to blur the background. The code also suggests an updated camera interface.

Google+ continues to sink with a second massive data breach. Abandon ship now

Google+ was scheduled to shut its doors in August 2019, but the second security breach in only a few months has caused the company to move its plan forward a few months. It might be a good idea to delete your account sooner than later.