Where the Facebook Are You?


On Wednesday Facebook officially announced that their wildly anticipated location based feature, Facebook Places was up and ready for business. Two days later it has slowly began trickling into Canada,  it seems to be available sporadically throughout the country. As always with every Facebook announcement there has been an out poor of questions, blog posts, and of course scrutiny. As I have not been able to test it out, I will leave the scrutiny aside. What you will find below is an executive summary of what Places is and how to address any privacy concerns you may have.

What Exactly IS Facebook Places?

Facebook Places is a new location “check-in” feature that allows you to share your location with your friends, to see where your friends are, and to discover new places in real time from your mobile device. Facebook Places has already launched on touch.facebook.com  for devices such as the iPad,  and a new version of the iPhone app is now available for you to either update or install.

Once you have updated/installed or visited  touch.facebook.com, you simply go to the Places icon and tap the “check in” button which will provide you with a list of nearby places. If your location does not appear in the list you have the option of searching or creating it. After checking in, your check-in will create a story in your friends’ News Feeds, as well as show up in the Recent Activity section of your page.

It is important to consider that this new feature of Facebook isn’t about sharing your location with the whole world- it’s about sharing places you find with your friends and networks. In saying that, it is important to note that your friends can, by default, check you in without your explicit approval by tagging you. Places tags can be removed by using your mobile device or a web browser and it functions the same way as removing yourself from a photo or video tag. You also have the option to turn off the accessibility for friends to check you in places. Keep reading for more information on how to set your privacy settings for this feature.

What About Foursquare and Gowalla?

Facebook has announced a Facebook Places API with read, write & search API and early partnerships with Yelp, Gowalla and Foursquare. If you are sitting there scratching you head trying to figure out what exactly that means that’s okay! To break it down into plain english, when you check-in with these services you will now have the option to choose if you would like share your check-in with Facebook Places. This service has been announced to only be available in the US but will be gradually rolled out to the rest of us.

What Has Facebook Done To My Privacy Settings (This Time)?

Because of the last Facebook privacy scandal, it seems as though Zuckerberg emphasized the privacy elements associated to this feature during this announcement last Wednedsay.  If you are weary of Facebook Places or you simply want to limit your involvement  with it, I have included an easy “how to” video. This video will provide you with a brief walk through of how to change your privacy settings for this new feature.

How Long Unit Facebook Cashes In?

I see this application as an opportunity as a major cash pull for Facebook, but the question remains as to how long it will take them to begin capitalizing on it? To give credit where credit is due, Facebook typically waits until they have produced a solid quality product that they can stand behind before they start monetization. As with other location based applications, the potential here for advertisements, rewards and incentives is massive and cannot be disregarded. I look forward to seeing how they monetize the platform in its early stages.

What Do You Think?

Will you guys being trying out Facebook Places now that it is available in Canada? Will you use it to connect and share with your friends? Do these location based application raise red flags for you?

It is too early for me to determine my final opinion, so I would love to hear your thoughts.