There is a time and a place for everything, including Facebook Places. As reported by Mashable Facebook decided it was time to launch location based features.
Facebook have their own location sharing features and APIs to allow others apps like Foursquare and Gowalla provide location based services to Facebook users.
Google will be Facebook’s main competitor in this sphere, largely on account of the huge directory of local business advertisers in its Google Places location page, accessible via Google Maps and local search. However Facebook will be leveraging a huge fan base of 400 million users, 100 million of which access the site using their mobile phones.
Geo-tagging and location capability seems to be the new technology wave of the future, and has spawned concerns about locational privacy. The costs of surveillance in today’s world are now much cheaper than hiring a private investigator to follow a person around with a plethora of systems that create and store digital records of people’s movements.
Devices, apps and databases storing this information will become available for parties with an interest in buying, querying or discovering it by subpoena. Companies which keep logs tracking individuals’ locations are and will remain subject to legal requests for that information. The databases will also be a haven for hackers.
The concern revolves around not just around status updates revealing user’s physical location, but the idea that ‘they know who we are, they know what we do, they know what we like, now they want to know where we live’.
Facebook Places will no doubt have privacy settings, conceivably so that users can limit who they share their physical location with, although as we have seen, there are holes in the security and privacy of Facebook which allow determined searchers to get around these features.
Facebook users should know that they need to opt-out and disable the ability of friends to check them into Facebook Places by logging into their privacy settings, into ‘customise’, ‘things others share’ and disabling ‘friends can check me into places’.