Thursday, August 19, 2010

Facebook's Places: all about location, location, location

Location, location, location: now not just the most desired facet of real estate, it's now becoming a near mandatory part of software and services, particularly social networking. Thus, the launch on Wednesday of Facebook's Places was highly anticipated.

The service began rolling out Wednesday to users in the United States. Facebook's iPhone app was just updated with the Places feature as well. Android users, as with most things, and despite the fact that Android has overtaken the iPhone globally and in the U.S., have to wait.

Facebook's gotten smart with privacy controls this time. The default setting for check-ins will visibility to friends only. Friends can tag you or check you in at a place, but you can untag yourself, or you can completely opt-out of allowing friends to check you in by going to your Privacy Settings and disabling the setting to "Friends can check me in to Places." You can also disable the tagging feature.

The Places API will allow check-ins to flow both ways from other services, like Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, Loopt, MyTown, and others as well.

Despite all these check-in services, Forrester Research reports that only 4 percent of adults in the United States use such services. That could change now that Facebook is in the game, and it could also change over time, as the social networking fans among youth grow into adulthood.

As with anything that exposes your location, the question is, do you really want to do this? As past events have shown, some will jump on that information (even those who are your "friends") and use it for their own gain, such as burglarizing your home. We've never been a big fan of "checking in" or other such location-based services that expose our exact location to others, but we do love the ability to find businesses around us via location-based services.

Location, location, location: use it if you want, but be careful how much of it you expose to others.

The article "Facebook's Places: Check-ins at the biggest social networking service" first appeared at

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