Facebook adds "Find Friends Nearby" feature for Web, mobile

JOEL SAGET/AFP/GettyImages

(CNET) Facebook has quietly launched a new mobile feature that allows people to locate other Facebook users who are geographically nearby.

Find Friends Nearby allows users to locate and add new friends at events or locations without having to search for them by name. However, it requires users to be logged into Facebook as well as the FFN platform.

First reported by TechCrunch, the new feature hasn't been officially announced but is currently operational on iOS and Android devices, as well as the general Web.

When contacted for comment about the new feature, Facebook was tight-lipped.

"We are constantly testing new features but have nothing more to share at this time," a Facebook spokesperson told CNET.

Facebook engineer Ryan Patterson told TechCrunch that he originally created the feature with another engineer for a hackathon project.

"For me, the ideal use case for this product is the one where when you're out with a group of people whom you've recently met and want to stay in contact with," Patterson said. "Facebook search might be effective, or sharing your vanity addresses or business cards, but this tool provides a really easy way to exchange contact information with multiple people with minimal friction."

The new feature emerges nearly two months after Facebook acquired Glancee, a location-based, "social discovery" app designed to connect users with friends in the real world. Highlight, another social-discovery app, generated huge buzz among members of the tech press prior to this year's South by Southwest Interactive conference.

Mobile has been a sore spot for the social-networking giant. After reporting that users' shift to smartphones and other mobile gadgets might hurt the company's ad revenue, Facebook has ramped up its focus on mobile advertising. Bloomberg reported last week that the social network was developing a mobile ad product that uses real-time data based on users' locations.

This article originally appeared at CNET.

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    Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. Before joining CNET News in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers. E-mail Steven.

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