We’ve known for some time that Facebook(s fb) must have some kind of mobile location service in the works; the company kept buying location-based services companies such as Gowalla and Glancee. Now Facebook appears set to launch a geo-tracking service that allows Facebook friends to find one another, according to Bloomberg.
The feature will go live in March, Bloomberg’s unnamed sources said, and if the report is accurate there are elements of the service that will raise some eyebrows. Apparently the tracking feature will run in the background on smartphones whether or not the user is actively engaging with the app, and Facebook will use that location data to tailor ads to customers based on their current whereabouts as well as their daily habits.
Facebook wouldn’t be the first to tackle location-sharing features. Apple(s aapl) launched Find My Friends in iOS 5, and Google(s goog) introduced Latitude back in 2009. There are also dozens of location-sharing apps and services targeted at family, businesses and other communities like Life360 and Location Labs – which powers the mobile carriers’ family locator services – while numerous social networks offer check-in capabilities, including Facebook.
Facebook will have to make any location-sharing service opt-in only due to privacy concerns, and even consumers who have no qualms with broadcasting their physical presence will probably take pause before activating the feature. Facebook users have vast networks of friends, many of which with you wouldn’t want to share something as sensitive as real-time location. For a Facebook location service to get uptake, it will probably have to make the feature’s sharing controls very granular.