Find WiFi offers great convenience but does it want too much in return?
Facebook has recently announced a new feature called Find WiFi, which helps its users around the world find free WiFi connections.
The feature has been available to some users since last year but Facebook has now revealed Find WiFi is available to all Android and iOS users.
The idea of the feature is that Facebook has offered a way to stop you using up your mobile data or help saving you some money by avoid international roaming charges, which can get pretty expensive.
When it was first announced in 2016, a Facebook spokesperson said the aim of the new feature was “To help people stay connected to the friends and experiences they care about”.
Of course, the new feature will encourage people to use Facebook more when they are travelling, which will lead to more status updates, more posts, more shares etc. It will also potentially open up another new (and huge) revenue stream for Facebook.
Currently businesses don’t have to pay to be listed as one of the locations that offers free WiFi, but that’s not to say Facebook wont start charging at a later date or include other advertisements in the Find WiFi listings.
For example, if you use Find WiFi, you can expect to see ads from business unique to a particular location you have visited suddenly pop up in your News Feed.
But while new ways to encourage greater user engagement on Facebook and new channels in which the social media giant can make even more money should perhaps be expected with every new feature it rolls out, there are a couple of more pressing reasons why users might want to think twice before rushing to use Facebook to find their nearest free WiFi connection.
Facebook’s Find WiFi tracks your every move
If you want to use Find WiFi then be prepared to hand over even more of your private data to Facebook.
This is because the new feature requires you to grant Facebook access to your GPS location data on your smartphone and it will keep track of this data even when you are not using the app.
It also enables Facebook’s controversial Location History feature which grants the social network access to lots of your sensitive data and allows it to keep tabs on every where you visit.
In order to use Find WiFi users need to enable Facebook’s Location History to ‘Always’.
Even if you turn it to the ‘While using the App’ setting, it automatically reverts back to ‘Always’ as soon as you start using the Find WiFi feature.
This will also have a big impact on your battery life.
What about security?
The other thing to consider for users who use Facebook to find a free WiFi connection is that there seems to be no way to verify how secure the network is which you are trying to connect to.
There are already lots of other apps out there that let users find the locations that offer WiFi connections. Some offered by cyber security firms inform users if the connection is secured or if it is safe. However, it seems that Facebook’s new feature doesn’t do either.
It’s well known that connecting to an unsecured wireless network can be risky and can make you more vulnerable to cyber threats and hackers.
While Facebook’s new feature offers users a great deal of convenience, those concerned about privacy will think it asks for a little too much in return.
Jonathan is our Google Nexus and Android enthusiast. He is also fanatical about football which makes it all the more strange that he should support Stockport County. In addition to writing about tech, Jonathan has a passion for fitness and nutrition and has previously written for one the UK’s leading watch and horology websites.