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Tips for safely using Facebook's new 'Nearby Friends' feature

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On April 17, 2014, Facebook launched its new feature, which lets friends share their location and see who is nearby. Looking to promote "meet ups" instead of comments and likes the new feature, which is an opt-in, means you will need to activate it with the app.

For some time now we worried social media was causing people to be less “social” in the real world. While people connected online with far away relatives, old classmates and looked for new friendships, it also caused controversial issues such as disrupting family life, caused work distractions, cheating and predictor issues.

This new feature sounds great; you decide to use the app; choose to share your location with your Facebook friends, relatives or customized the option. When turned on, Nearby Friends shows the locations of those using the device as well.

You can see how many are in your area, general location, miles ways and a time stamp of when they were there.
Though it seems Facebook has their heart in the right place trying to put people back in touch with reality and helping them to catch up over coffee; this brings up new safety issues something social media companies just can’t wrap their brains around.

You have 3,542 friends on Facebook, how many of those people do you really know? Relatives, old classmates, co-workers, okay you can ask a co-worker to get a coffee at work. Old classmates, how much do you really know about these people other than what they put on their Facebook page, which isn’t advertising they’re a mask murderer.

Here are FIVE safety tips for using this feature wisely:

  • Meet only those you trust, like a family member who has been a constant in your life though maybe far away. This does not include family members who have disappeared for ten years without any contact.
  • Get together with friends who once again are a constant in your life. Maybe you have both been so busy you just have found the time to hang out. This would be a great chance to catch up!
  • If you plan to meet old friends, those you haven’t seen or heard from meet as a group or keep it in a public place where others are familiar with you. This way if you disappear, someone will notice.
  • Don’t accept new connections into this feature, you have never met face to face before. Though they may be your friend online, remember people show you what they want you to see on social media sites. No one is going to post they are an abusive person, and have a flare for obstructing justice.
  • And one last tip, if you’re a teenager using Facebook and you want to use this new feature, always tell an adult where you are going and who you will be with. Even if it’s just a quick hello before they leave town again. Don’t think it’s not important or it’s just five minutes. That one message or call could save your life.
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