Instagram, the image-sharing platform owned by Facebook, is reported to be testing a feature that would allow it to share users’ precise location history with its parent company.

First reported by TechCrunch, based on information discovered by software researcher Jane Manchun Wong, the Instagram app would collect users’ GPS coordinates even when they’re not using it.

By sharing the data, both social media platforms would then be better placed to target ads at users and recommended content, which would appear in their Facebook Profile’s activity log.

TechCrunch highlighted screenshots posted by Wong, who found in the privacy and security settings a statement that the location history option “allows Facebook Products, including Instagram and Messenger, to build and use a history of precise locations received through Location Services on your device”.

In addition, a “learn more” button revealed: “When Location History is on, Facebook will periodically add your current precise Location History even if you leave the app … Location History helps you explore what’s around you, get more relevant ads, and helps improve Facebook.”

In a statement to TechCrunch, a spokesperson for Facebook said: “We haven’t introduced updates to our location settings. 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 location settings in the future.”

However, for TechCrunch, Facebook’s phraseology “effectively confirms” location history is something Instagram has prototyped, and that “it’s considering launching but hasn’t yet”.

The discovery of the prototyped feature came just a week after the founders of Instagram, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, announced that they were leaving after eight years at the helm, including six years with Facebook.

They were replaced last week by Adam Mosseri, VP of Facebook’s news feed product, amid speculation that Systrom and Krieger had clashed with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the future direction of the business. With both men now gone, several commentators expected Facebook’s involvement to increase further.

Sourced from TechCrunch, The Verge; additional content by WARC staff