Instagram is working on technology that would allow it to share location data with Facebook, enabling the social network to access precise GPS coordinates and use them to target advertising and recommend relevant content.
The location sharing function does not appear to be in the testing phase yet, but was spotted by technology expert Jane Manchun Wong, who has previously found prototype functions including Instagram's video calling and music stickers.
The spectre of data passing between Instagram and Facebook seems to confirm some of the worst fears of industry experts who warned that after Instagram's founders recently resigned, Facebook would attempt to exploit more value out of the photo sharing platform. Adam Mosseri, former vice president of News Feed at Facebook and a close friend of Mark Zuckerberg, has since been appointed head of Instagram.
"To confirm, we haven't introduced updates to our location settings," said a Facebook spokesperson addressing the prototype. "As you know, we often work on ideas that may evolve over time or ultimately not be tested or released. Instagram does not currently store Location History; we'll keep people updated with any changes to our locations settings in the future."
This isn't the first time Facebook has courted controversy by sharing data between its different platforms. After breaking its promise to EU regulators that it would not commingle data from WhatsApp with Facebook, the social network was fined $122m (£93.5m).