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Facebook tests tracking Location History via Instagram

Burbn lives on.
Richard Lawler, @Rjcc
October 5, 2018
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Drew Angerer via Getty Images

After an abrupt exit by Instagram's founders, there have been reports that they weren't always happy with being seen as one of Facebook's apps, instead of a standalone platform. With curious timing, TechCrunch reports that at least one user, Jane Manchun Wong, has spotted a setting that would let Facebook use Instagram to build up Location History data from a user's phone.

Google does a similar history with Maps and using Android phones, and Foursquare's data business is built upon this model. Perhaps ironically, this is a bit of a return to form for Instagram, which sprouted to life from a location-sharing app called Burbn. Data showed that people liked sharing photographs more than anything else, and they developed Instagram to take advantage of that.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Facebook said "To confirm, we haven't introduced updates to our location settings. As you know, we often work on ideas that may evolve over time or ultimately not be tested or released. Instagram does not currently store Location History; we'll keep people updated with any changes to our location settings in the future."

The way the setting is described, it would be in place for both Instagram and Messenger, helping Facebook accumulate data from people who might not regularly use or install the main app, but it defaulted to off, suggesting it could be an opt-in addition. Under new leader Adam Mosseri, who previously worked on the Facebook news feed, we'd expect to see tighter integration from the app. Pulling in data to serve Facebook's various ad targeting ambitions certainly fits the bill.

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