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Facebook introduced an easier way for its Android users to control how it uses their location information.

Engineering director for location infrastructure Paul McDonald pointed out the differences between how iOS and Android handle location settings in a Newsroom post.

Android devices feature a single on/off switch for location services, enabling users to determine whether to share their precise location with Facebook and other applications.

Meanwhile, iOS devices give users more options: They can choose to share their precise location always, only when an app is in use, or never.

The social network’s new location control settings for Android enable users to choose whether or not to allow Facebook to collect their location information when the app is not in use.

McDonald provided an example of how this update eases the process for people with Android devices.

Previously, Android users who chose to enable Facebook’s Nearby Friends feature—which enables friends to share their locations with each other—had to grant Facebook permission to access their location when the app was not in use by enabling location history.

Doing so both shared users’ locations with Facebook when they were not using the app, and enabled the social network to store a history of users’ precise locations.

Facebook’s update will allow Android users to choose whether or not to share their locations when the social network’s app is not in use.

McDonald said Android users with their location history settings turned on will have their background location setting turned on, while those who have location history turned off (or who never turned it on in the first place) will be set to off.

Android users will be alerted to the new option via their apps.

While nothing has changed on iOS, users on that platform will also receive alerts so that they can check their existing settings.


Facebook is also updating its Access Your Information section to include its estimate of users’ primary locations at the city or postal code level.

McDonald wrote, “Primary location is determined by information we use to support Facebook products, such as the current city you might have entered on your profile; the IP address of your device; your activity on Facebook products (like check ins); and precise location information if you’ve chosen to share it.”

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