Facebook quickly pulled a new feature which uses the GPS signal in modern phones to help you find friends – and potential new friends – nearby.
The ‘Friendshake’ feature – also known as Find Friends Nearby – was designed primarily for use on phones, and allowed you to make friends with people who are close by – perhaps in the same office, gym, or bar.
The feature launched quietly early this week, and was pulled by Facebook as soon as it attracted attention. Many blogs described the feature as a ‘stalking app’.
The site now claims the feature was under test.
‘This wasn’t a formal release — this was just something that a few engineers were testing,’ a spokesperson told Wired magazine. ‘With all tests, some get released as full products, others don’t. Nothing more to say on this for now, but we’ll communicate to everyone when there is something to say.’
As Facebook acquired start-up Glancee last month, a mobile app which helps you find friends with similar interests nearby, it seems this is very much in the direction the social network is trying to go.
As it stood, the Find Friends feature meant that, if you meet a group of new people, you can all use this for one-touch friendship, rather than manually finding out each person’s name and separately adding them.
Some users may find this a boon to easily connect with new acquaintances, while others may see this as an invasion of privacy and way for unwanted people to get your attention.
However, the feature is currently one you have to manually turn on, by visiting http://www.fb.com/ffn – the last letters are an acronym for Find Friends Nearby.
The site has now been deactivated, at least for now.
When you enter the URL into your mobile browser, Facebook will provide a list of others who have visited the same page recently in the same area. A quick click will then add you as friends.