Facebook said it found that one of the most frequently used phrases on Messenger is “How far away are you?” It’s up to users whether they want to share their precise location—but if they do, that information is also live.
So, once a user shares his or her location information with friends or family, they can track the person’s movement for up to an hour. Pretty cool? Or, downright creepy?
On the up side, it’s a nice safety feature and also a proximity feature for people who choose to get together at the last minute. On the downside, no one likes to feel as if they’re under surveillance. If you can turn the feature off, that would be a plus.
So what is the real-time marketing potential of this feature? There could be plenty, if Facebook decides to open up Messenger to advertising inventory. But would it? This type of one-to-one communication in Messenger is kind of sacrosanct—a place where users aren’t accustomed to advertising. But then again, we weren’t used to ads in our newsfeeds either, or in our Instagram fees. Will such a powerful real-time feature stay ad-free for long? Who knows.
By the way, Facebook’s not alone in offering location-sharing. Google Maps last week also said it’s adding a similar live feature. And the Messages app on Apple's iPhone has a similar feature.