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Facebook Places: A Little Too Much Info?

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 9/6/10 10:00 AM

What is Facebook Places?

Facebook has recently launched a new Application called Facebook Places, a location based app that utilizes your cell phone to allow you to let your friends know where you are based on your GPS location. 

Rather than try to replace the other big name location-based social networks, Places will allow Gowalla, Foursquare, Booyah and Yelp to integrate with Facebook Places. 

Places application is available to users in the United States with mobile access to the Facebook application for iPhone or HTML5 Mobile Site (for non-iPhone users).

How to Use Facebook Places:

 You can use Places by allowing Facebook to know your location.  Once you have “Checked in,” you can share your location, find other friends using Places, find places that are already listed, add new places, and tag your friends (provided they have not turned off Places).

Your check-in will create a story in your friends' News Feeds and show up in the Recent Activity section on the page for that place.  When a friend tags you through Places, you will receive notifications on your phone and on Facebook.

If you have allowed your friends to check you in, when they tag you at a place, they will also check you in.  If you do not allow friends to check you in, then you will appear as you would in any tagged status. 

You can remove a places tag the same way that you would remove yourself from a tagged photo, by clicking the “remove” button.

Why Would You Use Places?

If you are a business owner, this can make getting found a lot easier.  You can add the location of your business to Facebook Places, and then claim it as your business.  Once you have verified that you are an official representative of the business, Facebook creates a business page for you.  When Places users check in with their friends, they can spread the word that your business is the place to be.

On a personal level, Places can help you connect with your friends in chance meetings that may not otherwise have happened.  Perhaps at a local business that used Places to set up their business page.  Or you can use it to plan your vacations.

Privacy Concerns 

Many people are still uncomfortable with Facebook’s habit of automatically opting them into any new app that they create. 

The default settings are: “Places I check in” are viewable by friends only, “Include me in the ‘People Here Now’ after I check in” is enabled by default; “Friends can check me in to Places” is also enabled by default. 

If you wish to Disable Places, here is a Step by Step guide:

  1. Log in to Facebook. Under your Account menu, choose Privacy Settings. Click the Customize option, then click the "Customize settings" link.
  2. Under the "Things I Share" heading, at the bottom of that section, you can change your visibility on places and if you are included on the people listed at the location.  By default "Places I check in" is set to only be visible by your friends. If you want to limit it more or less, use the drop down menu to do so. Below that is "Include me in 'People Here Now' after I check in." It is enabled by default. This will let people know you're at a particular location via the location's page or in a search for people near you. Uncheck "Enable" if you want to disable this option.
  3. If you don't want your friends to check you into Places, go to the section called "Things Others Share" and find "Friends can check me in to Places." Set this to "Disabled." Keep in mind that unless you disable this option, any friend could potentially check you in anywhere. You don't actually have to be there.
  4. To block your location from being shared with friends' applications click the "Applications and Websites" link, then go to the "Info accessible through your friends" section. Click "Edit Settings" and you'll see a bunch of boxes. Anything checked is available to Facebook apps that your friends are using. The last checkbox in this section is "Places I've visited," uncheck that if you don't want your friends' apps grabbing your location information as well.

It is important to note that even if minors place their settings as viewable by everyone, only their Friends will be able to see their Places locations.

You also have the ability to report Places for incorrect data, abusive behavior, and the permanent closure of a business or duplication of other content.  Reported Places are flagged but removal may not occur immediately.

And remember your manners, always ask first before you tag your friends with you! And make sure that your account privacy settings are only sharing with those you know. Be stalker safe.

What do you think? Is Places a little too much info or just a great way to connect and market? Will you use it?

Topics: social media, customer segmentation, mobile marketing