Revealed just weeks after Instagram’s co-founders left the company
Instagram is currently testing a feature that would allow it to share your location data with Facebook, even when you’re not using the app, reports app researcher Jane Manchun Wong (via TechCrunch). The option, which Wong notes is being tested as a setting you have to opt-in to, allows Facebook products to “build and use a history of precise locations” which the company says “helps you explore what’s around you, get more relevant ads and helps improve Facebook.” When activated, the service will report your location “even if you leave the app.”
The discovery of the feature comes just weeks after Instagram’s co-founders resigned from the company, reportedly as a result of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s meddling in the service. Examples of this meddling include removing Instagram’s attribution from posts re-shared to Facebook, and badged notifications inside Instagram that encouraged people to open the Facebook app. With the two men who were deeply involved in the day-to-day running of Instagram now gone, such intrusions are expected to increase.
Instagram, as a “Facebook Product”, is testing Facebook Location History in their app.
It allows tracking the history of precise locations from your device, now through instagram app tooJane Manchun Wong@wongmjane
Facebook is testing Map view in Nearby Friends
Instagram is not the only service that Facebook has sought to share data between. Back in 2016 the company announced that it would be sharing user data between WhatsApp and Facebook in order to offer better friend suggestions. The practice was later halted in the European Union thanks to its GDPR legislation, although WhatsApp’s CEO and co-founder later left over data privacy concerns.
In a statement to TechCrunch, a spokesperson from Facebook confirmed that there was no guarantee the feature would see a wide release. “We often work on ideas that may evolve over time or ultimately not be tested or released. Instagram does not currently store Location History; we’ll keep people updated with any changes to our location settings in the future.”
Wong has a history of correctly identifying features like this before they’re officially announced. She has previously leaked Facebook’s dating application, Instagram’s updated two-factor authentication, and Instagram’s school bio feature.
Facebook is also reportedly testing a map view to see friend’s locations, similar to what’s already offered by Snapchat. Instagram’s data sharing could provide additional data points to power this functionality, while providing Facebook with more data to better target its ads.
We don’t yet know whether Facebook’s Location History will be officially integrated into Instagram’s service, or if this is just a one-off test. However, this could be the first sign that “the end of Instagram as we know it is here.”