Facebook has pulled out its Find Friends Nearby feature hours after it was silently rolled out to iOS and Android platforms. The social network says the feature was only meant for testing, not for a formal release. Facebook's FFN service enabled users to find friends who are geographically nearby. The feature, however, drew harsh criticism with tech pundits dubbing it as a 'creepy' and 'stalking' app.
ABC News confirms that Facebook has pulled the feature. The report also quotes an official statement from Facebook, which explains why the feature was pulled. "With all tests, some get released as full products, others don’t. Nothing more to say on this for now, but we’ll communicate to everyone when there is something to say,” reads the official statement.
Initially dubbed as Freindshake, the feature that was never announced officially was made available on Facebook's mobile apps and mobile site. Facebook engineer Ryan Patterson confirmed that he had developed the feature along with fellow engineer for a hackathon project.
“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),” he said.
Reports on the web suggested the new FFN feature was related to Facebook's recent acquisition of Glancee app, a location-based, "social discovery" app designed to connect users with friends. It was also speculated that Facebook was attempting to compete with the popularity of Highlight, another social-discovery application. For more, read our previous coverage.