Instagram is testing a tool that would allow it to share users’ location data with Facebook, even if the app has been shut down.
The data, which could include a user’s exact GPS coordinates, would be shared with Facebook to help it serve up targeted advertisements, according to TechCrunch.
Even though it’s still in the prototype stages, news of the feature has exacerbated fears that Instagram is taking a page from its parent company, Facebook, by going after users personal data.
The move comes just days after Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger resigned from the company, saying they ‘would explore creativity again.’
Many pinned the resignations to rising tensions between the co-founders and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, which grew over disagreements on where to take Instagram next.
Should it come to fruition, the feature will likely fuel concerns that Instagram is going to be come more intrusive now that its founders are gone.
Details of the feature were discovered by Jane Manchun Wong, a frequent tipster and a computer science student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Facebook confirmed that it’s testing a location sharing tool on Instagram.
‘To confirm, we haven’t introduced updates to our location settings,’ a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch.
‘As you know, we often work on ideas that may evolve over time or ultimately not be tested or released.
‘Instagram does not currently store Location History; we’ll keep people updated with any changes to our location settings in the future,’ the spokesperson added.
Screenshots of the prototype feature show that it would be located in Privacy and Security Settings and is optional, meaning that users would be given the ability to turn location sharing on or off.
In the screenshots, a ‘Learn More’ button provides more details about how the feature would work.
‘When Location History is on, Facebook will periodically add your current precise location to your Location History even if you leave the app,’ the description reads.
Users can turn off the feature ‘at any time’ in the Location Settings section of the app, according to Instagram.
‘When Location History is turned off, Facebook will stop adding new information to your Location History which you can view in your Location Settings,’ the description continues.
‘Facebook may still receive your most recent precise location so that you can, for example, post content that’s tagged with your location.
‘Location History helps you explore what’s around you, get more relevant ads, and helps improve Facebook.
‘Location History must be turned on for some location feature to work on Facebook, including Find Wi-Fi and Nearby Friends.’
Wong found that the feature was automatically set to off in the app.
It comes as Facebook has been testing a redesign for its ‘Nearby Friends’ feature, which lets users share their location with others on an interactive map, similar to Snapchat’s Snap Maps feature.
It’s possible that data harvested from Instagram’s Location Sharing feature could bolster Facebook’s Nearby Friends tool.
Facebook has gradually asserted its presence in the Instagram app since acquiring the firm for $1 billion in 2012.
The firm has pushed users to share Instagram content on their Facebook profiles, as well as removed Instagram’s branding from any photos shared on Facebook.
Users have also been wary about what Facebook’s user data missteps could mean for Instagram.
Facebook is grappling from the fallout of a massive data breach, in which it found that 50 million users accounts were exposed by hackers.
If Facebook intends to collect more data from users Instagram accounts, that could make it vulnerable to hackers, should it be a victim of another data breach.