Find My Friends

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Find My Friends
FMF Logo.png
FMF Interface.png
Application Interface [1] [2]
Type Location Sharing Service
Launch Date October 12, 2011 [2]
Status Active
Product Line Application
Platform iOS
ind My Friends
is an iOS application that enables location sharing for location sharing via GPS for users with Apple devices. Apple launched the application on October 12th, 2011[2]. This application can be used on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac devices [2]. Users choose who they allow tracking their location, including when and for how long to share their location with others. Up to 100 followers can be granted access to your location and, at the same time, you can track up to 100 people's locations [3]. The ability to easily share one's location raises an ethical controversy over the ability to track other's real-time location on a map.

Features that are cool

To share one's location or receive the location of another user, both parties must have the Find My Friends application [4] installed on their devices. If the device is using iOS 9 software or a newer version, the application is automatically installed on Apple devices [4]. If the device uses an iOS 8 or earlier version of software, the application can be installed for free in the App Store [4].

Sharing Location

A user’s location can be shared via phone number, iCloud account, or AirDrop. A user can elect to share their location via the Find My Friends application, the Contacts application, or in the info tab of an iMessage conversation. There are three options for how long the location will be shared: one hour, until end of the day, or indefinitely. Once the time has expired, the user has the option to share their location again, if they choose. The only way to stop sharing location with someone who once shared it indefinitely is to manually turn it off. This is done by entering the Find My Friends application, clicking on the user with whom you wish to no longer share your location, and choosing the "Stop Sharing My Location" option. To stop sharing location with all friends from all devices registered in an iCloud account, one can disable location sharing by choosing "Turn Off Share My Location" in iCloud settings.

Request Location

After a user shares this location with a friend, that user can request the location of that friend within the Find My Friends application. Once a request has been sent, it is up to the recipient to accept the request because the recipients' location can be shared. If they accept, they can select how long they wish to share their location by selecting from the three-time options. If a user denies the request, then the other receivers will not be able to see their location. It is possible for one user to have the location of another user but for the other user not to share their location back. Sharing locations with another user is a mutual process and both parties must accept the request to have their location shared.

Viewing Location

A user can view someone’s location either within the application or in the info tab of an iMessage conversation. In both cases, the sharer’s contact icon will be displayed on a map and the name of their location will be displayed. The name of the location varies based on how well the location is recognized by Apple maps. It can appear as a city, state, or the exact building.

Customizing Location

Users have the option of customizing the name of their location. Once physically at a location, inside the user profile on the application, there is an option to choose a label for this location. Find My Friends provides default label options such as “Home” or “Work” but also allows users to create custom labels. Only one label per location can be selected, but labels can be added to as many locations as the user chooses. This feature makes it easier for the tracker to know where their friend is because they can see the word "Home" or "Work" rather trying to decipher specific street locations and correlating them to physical places.

Remove Location

Find My Friends allows users to stop sharing their location with a specific user at any time they wish, even if it is before the expiration time. Similar to sharing a location, this can be done from the Find My Friends application, the Contacts application, or in the info tab of an iMessage conversation. The user will get a notification that this user’s location is no longer being shared with them. By turning off your location, you will still be able to see the other person's location until they turn it off themselves.

Hide Location

The application also offers the ability to have a user’s location hidden temporarily from all of the people the user is currently location sharing with. In the application, inside the user profile, there is the option to turn off “Share My Location”. This option can be toggled on and off as much as desired; followers will not receive a notification that the user has turned their location off. If an attempt is made to look at a user's location, the user's location will not appear on the map and will be noted as “Location Not Available." “Location Not Available” is also displayed in the case that a user’s device does not have an internet/cellular connection or if the device has been turned off. In this case, the location will return to being displayed once the device is turned back on and/or finds an internet/wireless connection. By having this feature, users can control their privacy without offending those that have their location.

Location Notifications

Find My Friends has the capability of sending notifications to followers of a user’s choosing. These notifications can result from when the user leaves or arrives at a specified location. Users also have the capability of sending one of their followers an immediate notification to alert them of their current location. Users can also get notifications on the movement of the people they are following when they leave or arrive at specified locations. The user who is doing the traveling will not know that someone is getting notifications about their location movement. These notification are important safety features because one can be directly notified if someone is home without them actually telling someone. If someone falls asleep or is occupied by something else, a notification will still be sent to whoever they chose to know they have made it safely to a location. A feature like this is widely used on college campuses where friends want to make sure they are walking from place to place safely and arriving at correct locations. It is also used sometimes to find missing students who have their phone on them and the application enabled.

Link to Apple Maps

When viewing a user’s location within the application, the application displays the geographical distance (in miles or kilometers) that user is from the other user’s current location. The application offers connectivity with Apple Maps to aid in navigation to this user’s location.

Ethical Concerns


Find My Friends has implemented certain mechanisms in an effort to deal with a number of the expressed privacy concerns. Examples of such include the ability for users to set limits on their sharing time, end the sharing of their location at any time, or hide their location temporarily. Additionally, the application does not stay signed in; a user is required to sign in each time per use. This was intended to serve as a verification of identity every time the application is used and is meant to safeguard one's contacts and their potentially sensitive information, should a device be picked up by someone other than the account holder. While the app has allowed users to have a certain degree of control over what they do or do not share on their end, the app has not implemented any restrictions on what users are able to do with the information of another's location. For example, unlike other apps that alert users when someone takes a screenshot (such as Snapchat), Find My Friends offers no such feature. Resultantly, a user has the ability to share information on another's location through screenshots or exact address extraction (via the map feature), amongst other things, without the explicit knowledge or acceptance of the initial sharer. the a

FMFNotifier [5]

Concerns regarding the specificity of the locations have also been expressed. Find My Friends permits users to see the map of someone's location in three modes: standard. satellite, and hybrid. As a result, users have the ability to see the likeness of the physical building as well as the surrounding area to get a better understanding of where someone is in relation to nearby places, making an individual easier to track down. [6]

Concerns regarding whether hackers can hack into the GPS of iPhones and obtain location information without the users' permission have been expressed. Because the availability of GPS is on the iPhones, it is possible that it could be hacked yet there are security measures that are meant to prevent this. Despite the security measures there still remains the concern as security breaches do occur.


Although Find my Friends can be good for parents and friends to track the location of their loved ones, it can also lead to stalking, the unwanted surveillance of an individual. When a user allows someone to track their location through Find my Friends this can lead the recipient of the location to start having stalking tendencies by constantly knowing where the victim is, leading to larger, harmful issues. Due to Find my Freinds features, the victim will not be informed if one of their followers is constantly checking their location. The persistent, unwanted, and often chronic nature of stalkers’ behaviors can give rise to serious and debilitating disruptions and changes for victims’ everyday lives. Victims can develop significant life changes such as changing their daily routine, taking additional safety measures, and reducing their social outgoings[7].

Law Enforcement

There have been several instances where Find My Friends has been successfully utilized by law enforcement authorities in their efforts to solve crimes. One such instance occurred in February 2018, when a man from Atlanta, Georgia, was able to use the application to help police track down the whereabouts of his missing girlfriend. Through the application, policemen were able to find the woman's general vicinity and subsequently locate her body using K9 police dogs about 500 miles away. She was found deceased with signs of physical trauma to her body. [8]


Privacy concerns have given rise to third-party applications intended to increase the privacy surrounding one’s current location. After jailbreaking their iOS device, a user can install tweaks such as LocationFaker and FMFNotifier[9]. These tweaks allow users to deceive others who follow their location. LocationFaker gives users the ability to have their location show that they are anywhere in the world. This deception has been used greatly with teenage children whose parents follow their locations. The user who is trying to check someone's location who is using a tweak such as this will not be able to tell that they are not seeing an accurate location.


  1. Golson, J. (2013). Find My Friends Updated With iOS 7 Redesign. Retrieved 1 April 2018, from
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Friedman, Lex. Apple releases Find My Friends for iOS, 12 October 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  3. “Set up and Use Find My Friends.” Apple Support, 30 Nov. 2018,
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 About Find My Friends Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  5. Find My Friend Notifier Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  6. AppAdvice: How to Use Find My Friends
  7. Korkodeilou, Jenny. “‘No Place to Hide.’” International Review of Victimology, vol. 23, no. 1, 2016, pp. 17–32., doi:10.1177/0269758016661608.
  8. Associated Press."Man uses ‘Find My Friends’ app to locate missing girlfriend’s body"[1] Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  9. Sheikh, Hamza. "How to Set Fake Location in Find my Friends on iOS 10" How to Set Fake Location in Find My Friends on iOS 10. 30 January 2017