facebook header globe

Travel enough and you’ll notice this subtle change in your Facebook header. Depending on your location, the globe icon in the upper right of Facebook’s website changes to show you the side of Earth you’re on.

Limited Locales

The changes however are only limited to three continents, Africa, Asia, and Europe, so if you’re anywhere else you’ll see the default Americas icon. (Sorry Australians.) These changes rolled out in the middle of 2014 but I personally didn’t notice it until several months later – but you don’t need a travel schedule like mine to test it out for yourself.

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VPN Around The World

Of course, Facebook can only use what it knows about your location digitally so using a virtual private network (here are the 3 best VPNs for travelers) you can set different locations to make the tiny globe spin. There isn’t much use to this Facebook feature, other than it’s a cool little travel acknowledgment, but there’s a reason for the change:

“As of April 2013, the United States still clung to a thin lead for the most Facebook users of any single country, but India was closing fast. Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico rounded out the top five. More importantly for Facebook’s business and mission, Africa and Asia represent the company’s brightest prospects for future growth and are the focus of its Internet.org push to bring more of the world online at low costs.”

Facebook’s changing globe should also be a reminder that websites, apps, and governments all track your online location with a number of intentions. Even the best airline search engines often show different airfare for the same routes depending on where you book from. Remember, a VPN can help you score cheaper airfare and get around local censorship when traveling plus get your around regional blocks on sites like Netflix.

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