UPDATE: Following a bit of a freak out over the new friend-finding feature, Facebook has already pulled it, claiming it wasn’t really supposed to be in wide release yet.
As a spokeswoman wrote in a statement to CNN:
“This wasn’t a formal release — this was something that a few engineers were testing,” the spokeswoman wrote. “With all tests, some get released as full products, others don’t. Nothing more to say on this for now — we’ll communicate to everyone when there is something to say.”
It can be tricky to find the particular Joe Smith you just met at the bar while wading through all the many Joe Smiths out there. If you don’t want to wait until morning and try to puzzle it out (“He seems like he’d be from Iowa, right?”), Facebook’s new mobile feature allows users to see others who have the app open nearby. Gotcha, Joe.
The Find Friends Nearby uses your phone’s GPS to pick out who else around you has the feature open, using a mobile browser or Facebook’s iOS and Android apps.
It hasn’t really been announced yet, says TechCrunch, but you can find it by going to http://fb.com/ffn on your phone, or on your phone’s app, you’ll be able to go to the menu sidebar, scroll down to Find Friends, and touch Find Friends Nearby.
TechCruch says the feature was originally called Friendshake, and while Facebook hasn’t commented on it yet, a Facebook engineer who demonstrated it over the weekend at an event told those in attendance to spread the word.
The engineer also posted a comment on TechCrunch’s story about it, saying the feature was created as “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,” his comment 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.”