Update: Facebook changed the way this feature worked
shortly after releasing it, and no longer reveals one’s exact
Facebook messenger now shows exact location of every chat
message. Just click on a previous chat bubble and, if location
was enabled, a map appears.
#privacyfail? Perhaps, and here’s why:
Reason 1: It used to just show city. Now it shows full
When the location feature was introduced in chats, it showed the
city where the chat originated. Like most people, I thought it
just showed city, essentially “blurring” my exact location.
Facebook, however, was storing the exact location, and now it has
decided to include it in all previous chats. Fortunately, it’s
not a problem for me. But imagine, if someone was telling their
ex, “I just need a break right now.” and thought they were
sending their city (and had all but forgotten about the seemingly
innocuous feature) and now have their location (e.g. friend’s
house) completely revealed. You can probably imagine other
situations where this could be problematic. One can now look back
in time with most everyone they had communicated with to see if
they were where they said they were.
I originally discovered the issue when communicating with a
journalist on Facebook. He had send me a message, and when I
scrolled up to view it, I accidentally clicked on the bubble and
a map to his house pulled up. I don’t think he intended to share
his home address.
Reason 2: It doesn’t seem possible to un-share previous
locations sent in chats.
All my previous messages, and all messages sent to me with
location now have an exact address attached to every previous
chat, assuming location was enabled. Accidentally sent your
stalker a “leave me alone” message? If you forgot to disable the
location, you may have also sent him or her a way to get easy
driving directions to your precise location.
Reason 3: The location icon is small and in a place where
the “send” button is on messages
I can guarantee you that people have accidentally turned on this
Facebook must walk a very careful line to encourage sharing while
protecting the privacy and safety of its users from accidental
over-sharing. In this case, it may need to redraw the line to
meet users’ expectations.
“Mac” (short for Michael Alan Clemmens) is the CEO of Digital
Deployment. He is responsible for the growth of the company,
recruiting and retaining top talent, and standing for Digital
Deployment’s culture and values.
Mac’s passion is empowering institutions, associations, and
non-profits to communicate online and better connect with their
users while teaching them how to build measurable and
sustainable business value.