Facebook owns Instagram and has for quite some time now, but the separation between the two platforms has been distinct. But that is already starting to blur quite a bit with recent major changes in executive staff at the photo- and video-sharing social network.
And it looks like it may be changing even more in the future. A report on Thursday from TechCrunch outlines how Instagram is currently testing the ability to upload location history of its users over to Facebook. The “feature” is being tested right now within a prototype version of Instagram, according to the report, which includes the ability to share location data with Facebook, which can then be turned into targeted advertising:
“Allows Facebook Products, including Instagram and Messenger, to build and use a history of precise locations received through Location Services on your devices.”
The app’s ability to track location is based on GPS coordinates, and according to the report it will continue to track location even when the app is not in use. It will then upload that data over to Facebook’s own Activity Log.
As it stands right now, Instagram has stated that it hasn’t changed anything, and that it tests different features quite often. This means that this new feature could see the light of day in the public version of the app at some point in the future, or it could never be implemented.
However, if this feature does come to fruition, then it means that Instagram could be sharing your location with Facebook in the background, and it does not appear to be an “opt-in” situation, as the default nature of the feature appears to be switched “on” right out of the gate.
“Location History is a setting that allows Facebook to build a history of precise locations received through Location Services on your device. When Location History is on, Facebook will periodically add your current precise location to your Location History even if you leave the app. You can turn off Location History at any time in your Location Settings on the app. When Location History is turned off, Facebook will stop adding new information to your Location History which you can view in your Location Settings. Facebook may still receive your most recent precise location so that you can, for example, post content that’s tagged with your location. Location History helps you explore what’s around you, get more relevant ads, and helps improve Facebook. Location History must be turned on for some location feature to work on Facebook, including Find Wi-Fi and Nearby Friends.”
This is basically another way for Facebook to work out targeted ads for visitors to its platforms, which shouldn’t be a surprise in the slightest. After all, we recently learned that Facebook uses the 2FA phone number, which should be meant entirely for security purposes, as another means to implement targeted advertising. Using Instagram to do the same thing is low hanging fruit.
At what point does Facebook go too far with this goal, though?