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Facebook warns users of iOS 13 location tracking permissions

Facebook on Monday outlined detailed how its app and corresponding service will be impacted by location tracking permissions, restrictions and accompanying tools built into iOS 13, saying that users might see unfamiliar warning notifications should they upgrade to Apple's next-generation operating system.

In a post to Facebook's official "Newsroom," titled "Understanding Updates to Your Device's Location Settings," company engineering director Paul McDonald explained the app's various location technologies in broad strokes.

Claiming "Facebook is better with location," McDonald says existing services enable functionality of popular features like check-ins, Find Wi-Fi and Nearby Friends, while keeping the user community "safe." Location tech also improves ad targeting and personalized alerts.

With new location tracking safeguards baked into iOS 13, as well as Google's recently released Android 10, users will be made more keenly aware of an app's reliance on active location data and information gleaned during background operations. In the case of iOS 13, that could lead to an abundance of notifications.

As noted by McDonald, iOS currently gives users the option to allow apps access to precise location information "Always," "While Using the App" or "Never." When iOS 13 sees release a new "allow once" option will be added to grant location services access on a one-time basis. When the new function is enabled, apps like Facebook will need user authorization each time it makes a request for a device's location information.

Apple's forthcoming iOS also generates reports detailing when an app uses location services in the background, how many times it accessed said data and where that information was requested, as represented on a map. Apple also requires developers to clearly denote how and why the information is used.

Facebook emphasizes its commitment to privacy, saying users are in control of how and when location data is shared by managing settings in the app's Location Services menu. It appears those restrictions come with a few caveats.

"We may still understand your location using things like check-ins, events and information about your internet connection," McDonald writes.

Facebook is already under intense scrutiny for its mishandling of user information, a situation that gets worse with what seems to be monthly exposes or reports revealing new privacy debacles. Amidst the negative press, it appears the social network is looking to get ahead of expected consumer blowback by making device owners aware of iOS 13's new tools prior to its introduction later this month.