Good news all of you Facebooking Canadians – and I know that’s almost all of you – Facebook Places has just launched here. In case you haven’t been following the launch in the U.S., in a nutshell, Places is a new feature that lets you perform a “check-in” similar to services like FourSquare and Gowalla. The idea being that if you like sharing everything about your life on Facebook, maybe you’d like to share where you are at any given point in time.
Sounds great? Sounds a little scary? You’re probably right. I’m not a big fan of these check-in services yet – but mainly because I suspect none of my friends really care that much if I’m parking my car and headed into Tim Horton’s for my morning cup of joe. That said, if Tim Horton’s cares, and wants to reward me for my continued loyalty by making some of those cups of coffee free, well heck, I might just become a Places fan. Maybe. Of course Marc makes a really good point that you should always think twice before telling the whole world you’re not at home.
For all the details, I’m going to pass it over to the official Facebook announcement (and their How-To Video) since there’s just far too much info here and I think they’ve done a good job at communicating the key points….
Lots of people were already sharing their location with friends via their status updates (‘I’m at the CN Tower with Kelly’). Facebook Places just makes this easier, more consistent and more social.
Why use Facebook Places?
· To share where you are with friends
· To find friends who are nearby
· To help you discover new places of interest, recommended by your friends
When would you use Facebook Places?
a. Student heading to university for the first time
So you’re starting university and you’ll find that, in a very short space of time, you’ll meet lots of new friends. Your Facebook friend count will shoot up! When you’re in your halls of residence it might be easy to find your new friends and hang out with them, but how about on campus?
· You check in to the biology department building on campus at lunchtime. Your neighbour from residence has checked in at the history building next door. You can send them a message and arrange to meet for lunch.
· Check in at the library to let your new course friends know that you’re picking up the required reading for your first lecture. You see that Josh and Amy from your seminar class are also checked in at the library and appear as ‘Here Now’. You can arrange to get together to share thoughts.
· Check in and tag your friends at the pub, does anyone else want to join?
· You really wanted to go out tonight but your new roommates are staying in. You see that your some fellow students have just ‘checked in’ at a bar downtown so you send them a quick message and decide to head over and join them instead.
b. Young professional
You’re a busy, young professional, based in a bustling city. You work hard and want to make the most of your free time with friends and family.
· You check in at a conference and see that a key contact for your business is there as well. She mentions that she’s grabbing a coffee in the café so you can head over to meet her there.
· You check in and tag your team from work at a local bar so that colleagues from other departments can come and meet you for that post-work drink
· You’re at the local pub to watch Sunday’s big game on the big screen, and see that a friend of yours has checked in at the pub up the road which he says has the biggest screens you’ll ever see. Not only have you found out that your friend is close by so you can arrange to meet up, but you’ve been given a great recommendation
How does Facebook Places work?
From your iPhone:
· Make sure you have downloaded the latest version of the Facebook application for iPhone
· Click on the Places icon within the Facebook application (centre of the screen) and allow the application to use your location when prompted so that it can show you nearby places
· Choose the place that matches where you are. Or, if there isn’t one already, create a new one
· Tap the ‘Check in’ button to share that you’re at this place
· You can also choose to add more details about what you’re doing there or why you like it
· You might also want to tag friends that are with you. Be aware that you can only tag others if you are checking in too and only if their privacy settings allow you to
· In the ‘People Here Now’ section, you can see who else is checked in at that place (this section is visible for a limited amount of time and only to people who are checked in there, or you can opt out of appearing there all together)
Places is also available through touch.facebook.com, on any phone that supports HTML5 and geo location.
Where does it appear when I ‘Check in’?
When you ‘Check in’ at say, the library, your check in appears:
· On your Wall
· Depending on your privacy settings, on the news feed of your friends
· On the Places page in the ‘People Here Now’ section (as long as your privacy settings allow) and in the ‘Recent Activity’ section, visible only to friends and others you allow to see your recent activities when they visit the Places page
Why can people tag me?
When people do things, whether that is going to the pub or to the movies, they will usually do it with friends. When friends want to see what you’ve been up to they usually want to see who you’ve been doing it with. For example, if your photos had just you in them they wouldn’t be nearly so interesting! Tagging is what makes them so interesting. It makes sense to extend this to Places as it makes the whole process more fun and engaging.
Where does it appear when a friend tags me?
If your friend checks you in somewhere and you have already accepted check ins (by previously checking into a place yourself, or allowing others to check you in) the check in will appear:
· On your Wall and in your News Feed
· On the Wall of the person who tagged you as well as their News Feed (according to the set privacy controls)
· On the Places page
o You may appear in the ‘Here Now’ and ‘Friend’s activity’ sections of the place page (Only people currently checked into the same place will see the ‘Here Now’ section and only people you and your friends allow to access your updates will be able to see the ‘Friend’s activity’ section and only if they navigate to the place page)
If you‘ve never interacted with Places, or you have been tagged and clicked “Not Now”, here’s what happens when a friend tags you:
· The post shows up on the Wall of the friend who tagged you, subject to his or her privacy settings (it will not appear on your Wall).
· In the Recent Activity on the Place Page (visible only to the tagger’s friends)
· You DO NOT appear in the Here Now section on the Place Page
· You DO NOT show up in the “Friends Who Have Visited” on the Place Page on facebook.com
· Additionally, no location data will be associated with your name.
I’m a bit worried about who can see where I am if my friends and I are using Facebook Places. What can I do to keep this private?
· Facebook Places is an optional service, you have to actively start using it and ‘Check in’ for it to appear on your profile
· People can tag you just as they can with photos, but you have to give approval to be CHECKED IN.
· Your ‘Check ins’ are visible to your ‘Friends only’ unless you have your master control set to ‘Everyone’, in which case Places will default to ‘Everyone’, in line with your explicit desire to share things more broadly (you can be even more restrictive than ’friends only’ if you want to and select just certain people to share with)
· You have to actively allow people to check you in and can remove this from your profile via your computer or your mobile
· If you do not want anyone to see you have been tagged at a place, you can turn off the ability for your friends to tag you from your privacy settings under “Allow friends to check me in” setting.
· If you prefer not to appear in the ‘People Here Now’ section on a place page after you check in, you can uncheck the appropriate box in your privacy controls