“What’s your Facebook profile buddy? Lets add each other on Facebook and be in touch” – asked a recent acquaintance whom I have just met through a mutual friend. This is turning out to be a usual routine for online users, keeping in touch with anyone and everyone no matter how old or nascent the relationship is.
The old fashioned way is to pass on the address of your Facebook vanity URL and tell the acquaintance to send you a friend request. The new way however, is to use “Friendshake”, which lets you find Facebook users who are close to your location at this very moment.
It works like this. Login to your Facebook account and go to fb.com/ffn, you will be greeted with nearby Facebook users who are closest to your location and are also viewing the same page from their mobile or from web. If you’re lucky and have agreed to share your location with Facebook, you may find a Facebook user near you, befriend the person and let the conversation begin.
Here is how the “Find friends nearby” page of Facebook looks on mobile (image courtesy - Techcrunch):
Friendshake although available at m.facebook.com/friendshake , has also been integrated into Facebook’s iOS and Android apps as a built in feature. To find nearby Facebook users on your Android device, open up the official Facebook app, pull down the sidebar menu from left and navigate to apps > Find Friends > Other Tools > Find friends nearby.
This appears to be a friction less way to find people around you but as of now, you have to keep that page open or else nearby users won’t be able to locate you on their “Friendshake” page. Although sounds great but Friendshake can be a huge privacy risk, if not handled carefully. I have many Facebook friends who want to remain “semi -anonymous” on Facebook; they prefer not to “be found” on Facebook, other than befriending close friends and family members.
If you are like them, friendshake is not your cup of tea since the core idea of friendshake is to find strangers who are near your location and are also on Facebook. Kind of fun if you love stalking and stumbling over random people at public places, restaurants and so on. Lets not forget that one month ago, Facebook acquired location based stalking app Glancee whose mission statement was:
We wanted to make it easy to discover the hidden connections around you, and to meet interesting people. Since then Glancee has connected thousands of people, empowering serendipity and pioneering social discovery
Facebook engineer Ryan Patterson told Techcrunch:
I built Find Friends Nearby with another engineer for a hackathon project. While it was originally called ‘Friendshake’, we settled on ‘Find Friends Nearby’ for launch (the URL was a little bit of a homage to the previous iteration).
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. 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.
Ryan says that friendshake uses geolocation to find your GPS co-ordinates when you are on your Friendshake page and shows you Facebook profiles within a radius around your coordinates. Once you leave the page, you stop showing on others Friendshake page.
Facebook’s recent actions imply that the social site is getting ready to take Facebook to the next level. Recent acquisitions, things like “Friends who have recently logged in” kind of hints towards a real time social discovery system where finding and connecting with someone you have just met wont be too much work.
Meanwhile, RIP Friendthem.com – another social discovery engine which was trying to achieve exactly the same thing which Facebook is now doing in house.