Facebook-owned social network Instagram is testing a feature that would allow location data collected by Instagram to be shared with Facebook, reports TechCrunch.
A prototype Location History being tested within Instagram suggests that a Location History stored when Location Services is turned on in the Instagram app will be used to bolster Facebook’s ad targeting. From the setting:
Allows Facebook Products, including Instagram and Messenger, to build and use a history of precise locations received through Location Services on your devices.
The feature was discovered by a TechCrunch reader who often digs into new functionality that Instagram is testing.
Instagram’s Location History test option collects GPS coordinates even when the app is not in use and adds them to Facebook’s Activity Log. It appears that the Location History setting defaults to “On” rather than being an opt-in feature.
This means that if Instagram does implement Location History in a future update without changing anything, Instagram customers could have their location data uploaded to Facebook without their knowledge. The feature is further explained in a “Learn More” button within the Instagram app:
“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.”
A Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch Facebook often tests features that are not released and that Instagram does not store Location History at the current time.
“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.”
As TechCrunch points out, location data sourced from Instagram could allow Facebook to target users with local ads across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger, showing ads for nearby restaurants or frequently visited locations.
It’s not clear if and when Instagram plans to launch this feature, but many other prototype features discovered by TechCrunch‘s source have launched within a few months of being uncovered.