The new Facebook Places was rolled out with a big fanfare August 18th. It’s a location based ‘service’ whereby you can use a smart phone (there’s an iPhone app-other smart phone users will need to go to http://touch.facebook.com. The places function works if you have a GPS enabled device. It worked on two of my laptops that ‘know’ my location.
I saw a video from Facebook proclaiming the satisfaction you’ll receive from checking in when you get to various locations. They say that sharing your location with friends enriches your Facebook experience and your life because all this sharing is what Facebook is all about—right?? Do we really need Facebook to do this for us?
You Must Change Your Privacy Settings To Deactivate Places
I have no intention of using Places, so I really didn’t pay much attention to the roll-out—that is until I heard that all Facebook users are automatically opted in to Places. I should have known – whenever something new is rolled out, the settings are left wide open and it’s our responsibility to check our privacy settings.
When I say ‘opted in’, that doesn’t mean that FB knows where you are and is publishing it without your knowledge. You have to ‘check in’ to a place. (see illustration below.) The FB default is that when you check in, it shows your location to ‘Everyone’. It’s up to you to go in to your privacy settings and change it (if you wish). I clicked on the ‘Places I check in to’ and changed mine to ‘Only Me’. There is not an option to turn it off, but the only me setting makes it as private as you can get. I did this so I could experiment with how it works.
Then notice the “Include me in ‘people here now’ after I check in” section below. The ‘Enable’ box is checked (the default). If you leave this box checked, then anybody who visits a location you’ve check in at can potentially view that you’ve been there before.
The other setting you’ll want to review is ‘Friends can check me into Places’ , then your ‘friends’ can check in to a place and then go crazy adding other people as being there with them. I saw on a friend’s location that she and 21 of her friends were at a hair salon all at the same time! It can be fun and silly, or it could be done to embarrass someone by putting them in a place they’re not know to frequent.
While looking into Places for this article I found Lifehacker’s short video on how to change your Facebook Privacy settings. Take a look at this if you’d rather have visual instruction on how to adjust your settings.
Facebook does allow for very granular custom settings. For example, from within your privacy settings, click on the ‘custom settings’ and you can really go to town and exclude or include certain people for Places (or other FB services). This is grand and glorious, however, you can spend a lot of time getting this set up. And it must be done for each privacy setting. What a pain.
Why I won’t Use Places
- I really doubt that my friends have time to be continually checking FB to see where I (or others) am.
- Places might be handy for a densely populated area with many locations/destinations close to each other, but where I live, that’s not the case.
- Do I really want to take the time to log into FB and do the check-in thing? Even two or three times a day might get to be tedious after a couple of days.
- Depending on our settings, our actions and locations can be seen by lots of folks. Do all those people need to know when I’m not home so they can come over to my house. Do you really trust all those people we say are our ‘friends’
- Think of how the marketers are salivating over how they will market to those using Places
- That old ‘creepy’ factor that lots of people like to mention.
How To Use Facebook Places
Trying to figure out how to use Facebook Places wasn’t so easy (at least for me). When I did some searches, I found plenty of places that wanted to show me how to change my privacy settings, but no instructions on how to actually use Places.
If you are just getting started and don’t have an iPhone app, just follow the instructions below:
- Point your browser to http://touch.facebook.com.
- Tap the Places tab.
- When you are prompted to share your location, tap “Share Location.”
Then if you need more help (and I did), just check out the Facebook Places Help as it goes into detail and explains what certain things do.
What have your experiences been with Places – would like to see your comments.