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Developer Tracks Real-Time Locations of Facebook Messenger ­sers

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A section of the Marauders Map from the Harry Potter films.

Marauders Map is a new browser extension that allows users to track the identity, locations, and movements of Facebook Messenger users.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Harvard University researcher Aran Khanna has developed Marauders Map, a browser extension that allows users to discover the identity of Facebook Messenger users, their location, and previous movements.

The Marauders Map exploits Facebook's default location settings on iOS and Android, which users must manually disable, and uses a global positioning system to place users on a map. "By simply looking at the cluster of messages sent late at night you can tell exactly where his [another user's] dorm is, and in fact approximately where his room is located in that dorm," says Khanna.

By examining messages from the past few days, the Marauders Map can develop a profile of users' weekly schedules and predict where they might be at any given time. In addition, users can track the location of others even if they are not friends if the user had sent messages to a group chat.

"With this code you can see for yourself the potentially invasive usage of the information you share, and decide for yourself if this is something you should worry about," Khanna notes.

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