Facebook ventures into social discovery with Find Friends Nearby
Feature designed to connect users to based on physical proximity
TechLife | 26 Jun 2012 :
Facebook has been testing a mobile-only feature, Find Friends Nearby, that allows users to connect with new social contacts based on who is nearby and using a browser.
The feature allows Facebook users to find and "friend" others nearby who also have the website open. It was reportedly available for some users in the Apps section of the main mobile menu and through a browser at fb.com/ffn. On Monday afternoon, however, Facebook appeared to have disabled the feature.
If two people meet at an event and want to share contact information, using Find Friends Nearby is designed to eliminate the need for them to type in each other's names and weed through a list of possible results, which can be long for those with common names.
News of the feature leaked from the San Francisco AngelHack event this weekend and was publicized in a blog post on Tech Crunch.
Facebook downplayed the feature when asked for comment. It also would not say if it had been disabled.
"This wasn't a formal release - this was something that a few engineers were testing. With all tests, some get released as full products, others don't. Nothing more to say on this for now," a Facebook spokeswoman said in an e-mail.
Still, the location-based feature marks a foray into the new territory of social discovery, or finding new friends, for the social network, which acquired the social discovery app Glancee in May.
"This is Facebook capitalising on the popularity of applications like Sonar, Highlight and others that provide a similar social discovery service to bring some value from location based services," Chris Silva, an analyst with Altimeter Group, said in an e-mail.
But the move didn't immediately trigger concern among industry players that Facebook would crush existing apps.
Gartner analyst Annette Zimmermann also said that Find Friends Nearby wouldn't be enough to establish Facebook as a player in social discovery.
"The fact that Facebook is moving into the location-based services space in general is natural and inevitable, but they have to be more serious in order to get it to work and make it a success. I think they are taking relatively small steps at a time." Zimmermann said.
IDG News Service