Less than 24 hours after it was discovered, Facebook says it has pulled the plug on the Find Friends Nearby feature. The company said the feature was being tested by Facebook engineers internally, and was never meant to be made public.ABC News
confirmed that the company had pulled the feature and also carried the following statement from Facebook: "This wasn't a formal release - this was something that a few engineers were testing. With all tests, some get released as full products, others don't. Nothing more to say on this for now - we'll communicate to everyone when there is something to say."
The new feature, which quietly came into being on Monday, helped Facebook users locate other users in the vicinity via geo-location. Though it was never announced officially, Find Friends Nearby was also available for mobile web users on iOS and Android via m.facebook.com/friendshake. (See
: Facebook's 'Find Friends Nearby' helps locate people around you
Why Facebook pulled the plug on the feature is not clear. Facebook may not have liked some of the reactions to Find Friends Nearby, with some people outraged at the "readymade for stalking" nature of the feature. In true Facebook nature, there's a "you stole my idea" angle to it as well. New York-based location-based service provider Friendthem claims Facebook's Find Friends Nearby is a complete rip-off of their idea, and even threatened to sue Facebook to claim what they believe is theirs.
So was it the public reaction that made Facebook change its mind, or did it climbdown against the threat of legal action? Maybe we should go with the simplest explanation and believe Facebook when it says that Find Friends Nearby wasn't ready for the world and ended up getting released by accident.