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Facebook Messenger now lets you privately share your Live Location for an hour

Facebook Messenger wants to be an offline social gathering tool, not just an online chat app. Today it’s adding a new Live Location feature that lets you share your real-time location on a map for an hour within a private direct or group message thread. The recipients can then see an estimate of how long it would take you to reach them by car.

“Live Location is super helpful when trying to coordinate with friends, telling people how close you are when you’re on your way to an appointment or even sharing where you are with your roommate when you’re on your way home at night” writes the feature’s product manager Selena Wang. It’s rolling out for all iOS and Android Messenger users today.

Live Location is Facebook’s second big attempt at maps in Messenger after its first one blew up into a privacy scandal and was scrapped in 2015. Many users were sharing their momentary exact location with each message, which a Harvard student found could be scraped into a Marauder’s Map through a Chrome extension he built showing exactly where a friend had been. Facebook rescinded the student’s internship offer, made him take the extension down, and switch to only letting users send their one time current or future location.

That static location feature is still available, but now there’s Live Location too. This time, though, you can’t leave it on by default.

To use Live Location:

  • Inside a message thread, tap the Location button or find it in the More menu
  • On the map, tap the blue bar to start sharing your Live Location
  • The recipients will see your exact current location on a map for 60 minutes, and an ETA by car for you to reach them
  • A clock in the corner of the map counts down to your location sharing expires, and you can hit Stop Sharing at any time
  • Alongside the Active Now status indicators and Messenger Day’s “Who’s up for?” filters, Messenger is becoming a much more full-featured utility for getting together with friends. That could give it a big advantage over strict chat products and dedicated visual communication apps.