In the infinite wisdom of Facebook, the world's largest social network felt it necessary to put a call out to Android and iOS users—practically every person with a mobile phone—to pay attention to new location controls being rolled out to their devices from Google and Apple, respectively, because simply put, "Facebook is better with location" tracking.
The rather blunt blog post by Facebook explains some of the ways users might benefit when allowing Facebook to track their location, including the background when not actively using the Facebook application.
"It powers features like check-ins and makes planning events easier. It helps improve ads and keep you and the Facebook community safe. Features like Find Wi-Fi and Nearby Friends use precise location even when you’re not using the app to make sure that alerts and tools are accurate and personalized for you," Facebook explains.
Facebook warns users that new versions of their mobile operations systems, iOS 13 and Android 10, both introduce "updates to how you can view and manage your location." The new controls could run afoul of a background location setting Facebook introduced earlier this year.
To Facebook's credit, it will use the most restrictive settings a user implements, whether it's in the Facebook app or in their mobile OS.
"For example, if your device location setting is set to 'all of the time', but your Facebook background location setting is off, we won’t collect your precise location information when you’re not using the Facebook app," Facebook explains.
At the same time, Facebook is going to phase out the background location setting on Android 10 while sending reminders to Android users to check their device's own location settings. It's not clear if it will do the same on iOS.
What's essentially happening is Apple and Google are giving users easier control over location tracking, and Facebook wants people to pay attention to the new settings so it can continue to track them (if they've chosen that option). It's not necessarily nefarious—Facebook is correct that certain features work better when it can pinpoint your location.
On the flip side, however, Facebook has a poor track record when it comes to privacy. The Cambridge Analytica scandal is perhaps the most well known privacy screw-up, but it is far from the only one. In that regard, it's a bit unsettling for Facebook to put out a plea for users to continue allowing it to track their location once the new settings roll out.