TechCrunch reports today that Facebook is testing a new privacy setting that would share location history from Instagram with Facebook. This news comes on the heels of the Instagram cofounders leaving the company, with Facebook’s former VP of News Feed being named Head of Instagram. The Instagram location sharing is still in the testing phase, but Facebook did not rule out a full launch.
This Instagram location sharing capability is located in the Privacy and Security settings of Facebook, where it is explained that Instagram and Messenger data can be used to collect and build a history of locations based on your iPhone’s Location Services feature.
Here is Facebook’s full explanation of the feature:
When Location History is turned off, Facebook will stop adding new information to your Location History which you can view in your Location Settings. Facebook may still receive your most recent precise location so that you can, for example, post content that’s tagged with your location. Location History helps you explore what’s around you, get more relevant ads, and helps improve Facebook. Location History must be turned on for some location feature to work on Facebook, including Find Wi-Fi and Nearby Friends.”
Essentially, this Instagram location sharing feature takes location (read: exact GPS coordinates) collected by the Instagram application – assuming you allow the app to access your location details – and shares it with Facebook. The location is then displayed on Facebook’s Activity Log on a map, and can be used for ad targeting and recommend content details.
TechCrunch says that in the prototype version of the feature it has seen, the Location History feature was enabled by default – but it’s unclear if that would be the case should this feature launch to everyone. [Update: TechCrunch has clarified that the feature is opt-in during the prototype period, not opt-out as originally stated.]
In a statement, Facebook says it hasn’t introduced these features publicly, and that Instagram does not currently store Location History. This, of course, leaves the door open to the feature coming in the future:
News of this Instagram location sharing feature comes as Instagram fans are increasingly worried about the future of the service. Embroiled in the departure of Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are reports that the two were growing increasingly frustrated with Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg eating away at Instagram’s autonomy.