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Douglas MacMillan (@dmac1) reports in the Washington Post that Facebook may have a location-tracking app by mid-March

The application will reportedly track a user’s location, helping users find nearby friends, and would run even when the program isn’t open on a smart phone or tablet. In addition to allowing users to locate each other, Facebook will be able to sell ads targeted at users by location.

Per MacMillan:

Facebook already records the GPS coordinates of users when they post status updates or photos from their phones, or check in to a venue. With the new app, the company would go a step further by tracking user whereabouts in the “background” of Apple’s mobile operating system, even when other programs are running or the phone isn’t in use, one person said.

MacMillan points out that while Facebook would probably need to ask permission from users to track their location, you may have already consented.

Facebook’s data-use policy tells users that the company may use information on location “to tell you and your friends about people or events nearby, or offer deals to you that you might be interested in.” The company said it may also put together data “to serve you ads that might be more relevant.”

“When we get your GPS location, we put it together with other location information we have about you (like your current city),” the data use policy reads. “But we only keep it until it is no longer useful to provide you services, like keeping your last GPS coordinates to send you relevant notifications.”

No question Facebook is going to draw some hate and controversy, but the lion’s share of us are going to trade privacy for convenience, context, and knowledge, especially in the years ahead.

I was in New York City last week for the LegalTech Show. There were countless people I would have liked to meet had I known they were in town. A Facebook location tracking app would have connected us.

I met a CMO from a West Coast law firm in New York because I saw, via Facebook, that she was attending a couple shows in New York City the week before. I had dinner with a legal consultant from Florida because we discovered each other were in New York via a Facebook exchange. Neither meeting would have happened but for Facebook.

If Facebook can give me a more powerful tool to know who’s in town, and perhaps even where they’re at, I’ll take it.

Do I worry about someone tracking me? Not really. My iPhone already probably does and if there was a more sinister reason for someone to be following me, they probably already are.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Jake Belluch.