Facebook disables new mobile friend finder hours after launch


Facebook has abruptly shuttered Find Friends Nearby, a new location-enabled feature rolling out across the social network's native iOS and Android applications as well as its mobile website.

Launched this past weekend with little fanfare, Find Friends Nearby was designed to help Facebook users identify both existing social networking contacts in their immediate vicinity as well as potential new friends who share their interests. "For me, the ideal use case for this product is the one where when you're out with a group of people whom you've recently met and want to stay in contact with," Facebook engineer Ryan Patterson, who designed Find Friends Nearby as part of a hackathon project, said in a comment posted to TechCrunch. "Facebook search might be effective, or sharing your vanity addresses or business cards, but this tool provides a really easy way to exchange contact information with multiple people with minimal friction."

But within hours of Find Friends Nearby's introduction, Facebook unceremoniously disabled the feature Monday afternoon. "This wasn't a formal release--this was just something that a few engineers were testing," Facebook told Wired. "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."

Although users were required to log into both Facebook and the Find Friends Nearby service (available on iOS and Android by tapping Apps > Find Friends > Find Friends Nearby) in order to share profile and location data, some media accounts described the feature as a "stalking" app, fueling speculation that Facebook shut it down to avoid questions about potential privacy concerns. At the same time, it seems likely Facebook will reintroduce Find Friends Nearby or offer something similar in the future: In May, the company acquired Glancee, an app designed to alert consumers when friends or likeminded individuals are in close range.

Facebook touts more than 901 million users worldwide, up 33 percent from 680 million a year ago. More than 488 million users access the site via mobile device each month.

For more:
- read this Wired article

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