A week after reports about how Facebook Messenger shares the 'exact location' of a user, Facebook has rolled out an update that changes the way users can share their location with others.
The update to Facebook Messenger will now let users share their location, or any location around the globe, as a pin drop on a map in a separate message, and the app no longer has the option to constantly share location information. "Today, we're excited to start rolling it out in place of our previous location sharing feature. Now you can choose to explicitly send a map of your location or another particular place as a separate message," stated Stan Chudnovsky, Head of Product for Messenger on the company blog post.
Users with the updated Facebook Messenger app, can simply tap on the three-dot 'More' icon placed at the bottom of the screen to access the function. They can quickly share their own location, or can search for a restaurant or any other place on the map and send it to others.
Facebook emphasises that the location sharing feature is optional. The ability to constantly share location information is no longer in available to the app. The company adds that it doesn't get any location information from the devices unless the users enable the location services on the app. Also, Messenger does not get any kind of location details in the background, and will not share location unless the users select a location to share with others. "We are not requesting any new permission for your information."
The change to the way Facebook Messenger shares location is expected to be a server-side update, and not an app update. It has begun rolling out to Android and iOS users, but doesn't yet appeared to have reached India.
Notably, last month's report by a student named Aran Khanna at Harvard College revealed how Facebook Messenger can actually allow Facebook Messenger users to accurately find the exact location of the people they chat with if location sharing is turned on, without their knowledge. Khanna built a Chrome extension, called Marauders Map, to display location of friends that users recently chatted with, before Facebook blocked access to its APIs.