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Facebook practically begs for location access despite new tracking protection in iOS 13 and Android 10

Published Sep 10th, 2019 7:31AM EDT
iOS 13 vs. Android 10
Image: Richard Drew/AP/Shutterstock

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Apple will unveil new iPhones on Tuesday, and announce the actual release date of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 for iPhone and iPad, respectively. And that’s exactly why Facebook is begging you to keep letting it track your location going forward. iOS 13 and Android 10 will both come with improved location-tracking protections, which hut companies that make use of the data, Facebook included.

In a blog post Understanding Updates to Your Device’s Location Settings Facebook makes it clear from the first paragraph that it wants you to understand that location information is good for Facebook (emphasis ours):

Facebook is better with location. It powers features like check-ins and makes planning events easier. It helps improve ads and keep you and the Facebook community safe. Features like Find Wi-Fi and Nearby Friends use precise location even when you’re not using the app to make sure that alerts and tools are accurate and personalized for you.

If you’re familiar with all the ways Facebook breached your privacy so far, you probably know better than to accept Facebook’s plea. You should disable location-tracking on all Facebook apps regardless of what operating system you’re using, not just because iOS 13 and Android 10 will make it harder for Facebook to collect location data. Google, by the way, is also a company that’s been preying on location data for years, but it’s now forced to offer better location tracking protection, at least to those people who are getting access to Android 10.

Yes, Facebook’s post does a great job informing you how location is handled in iOS 13 and Android 10, but the company would probably not come out with a press release to help you “understand” anything location-tracking-related if it weren’t for these security updates.

The blog post also seems to suggest you might not want to necessarily update to iOS 13 or Android 10 — but you should get the updates as soon as possible, if your device can handle them. There should be no question of deciding to update to the latest version of an OS, regardless of platform (again, emphasis ours):

If you decide to update to Android 10, you’ll have the option to allow individual apps to access your precise location, either while you’re using the app or when you’re not. We understand that this may be confusing if you’re already using Facebook’s background location setting, and this update may cause a few instances where the Android and Facebook location settings will be out of sync. […]

If you decide to update to iOS 13, you will see an additional option called “allow once,” which lets an app access your device’s precise location information only once.

Facebook will continue to grab any location data it can about you, the blog post explains, based on where you connect to the internet from:

We may still understand your location using things like check-ins, events and information about your internet connection.

Finally, Facebook says it’ll make it easier to control how and when you share your location, but it’s also building new features that will work best when you give it access to your location.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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