Facebook Places is a service that is similar to Foursquare – a geolocation services using which you can let others know about your present physical location by access it using your mobile devices.
As if Foursquare, twitter, brightkite, Gowalla was not enough location sharing notwithstanding the privacy concerns and the fact that using this feature is not safe and you are stupidly sharing your location to your stalker (?) – Facebook has also jumped into the game. Now you can check into places in Facebook too. Why would you want to use Facebook places check-in feature when there is foursquare, Gowalla etc. around? Well, for one, you are on Facebook and you have a lot of friends on Facebook who might not be on other location sharing services. And with Facebook places you don’t have to take an additional step to announce to your friends where you are. Facebook apparently was working on this feature for a few months. Now you can check-in everywhere you go like a new restaurant or live rock band show and share that with friends which will tell them where you are and it will also help them to discover the new place that you have found and this is all real time from your mobile device.
Checking in – With the check-in feature you can discover if your friends are in the same venue that you are in or if they were in the same venue recently. This is helpful in case you are in a carnival or in a rock concert and you are not aware if your friend is attending the concert or carnival. It informs your friends about the carnival and it informs them that you are in that carnival or rock concert. This check-in feature makes it extremely simple to find your friends in the crowded rock concert or a really big carnival or a theme park. With the real time feature you can know the exact moment when your friend has arrived at the concert. The uses of this simple feature are nearly unlimited.
This feature is available in the latest version of Facebook application for iPhone, for those who don’t have iPhone can use the mobile site – touch.facebook.com – to check-in into places. The touch site works only if the browser of your phone has HTML 5 and geolocation support, currently only android smartphones have that support. Facebook has assured that apps for Android mobiles and BlackBerry are in the making and would be soon available for end users. There is no Symbian app unfortunately and you cannot use the touch site on Symbian because the Symbian browser does not support HTML 5 or geolocation. The checking in process is very simple – when you are in a place just tap/touch the “Check-in” and you are done. There are options to add the place if it is not in the list of places. The check-in will show up in your friend’s news feed and in recent activity section of the Venue’s page. But Places is available in United States only and it will be sometime before it is available in other countries. So you can check-in only if you are in United States. ::Bummer::
Tagging – You can also tag your who are with you in the particular venue or place. You can also read the review of a particular place if any of your friends have been to that place. Tagging other friends is possible only if they have allowed you to tag them. Knowing Facebook that setting would be ‘on’ by default and the setting would be buried deep or don’t bother changing it. You can of course control what you share and whom you share it with. When you are checking into a place you can choose not to share that with your friends. (But if you don’t want to share with your friends why are you checking in at that place???) You will get a notification when you are tagged by any of your friends. You can remove yourself from the places you have checked in earlier or if your friends have tagged with along with their check-in – you can do this from the Facebook places page or form your mobile app or touch site. Letting your friend check you into different place are easy and seem cool but do you want your friend to have that control over you? Go to your Privacy Settings and turn off the setting to “Let Friends Check Me In.” As before you can let third party application use your check-in data. Interesting applications and games would be developed to use this feature. You can also share your check-ins with the applications that your friends use. But if you are not interested in that just go to your privacy setting and change the setting.
Check-ins are not new but it would be more popular and widely used because it is now a Facebook feature. With this Facebook will face more privacy issues. How you use this feature is on you but it certainly next step in social networking.
This is how the facebook places looks like while using at iphone’s facebook app.