Upon many expectations, Facebook announced its new location feature this week called Places. Location services such as Foursquare and Gowalla have become increasingly popular over the last year and now Facebook is joining the hype.
The feature is called Places and lets users share where they are, find out who is around them, and check out other events and services taking places in the surrounding area. In addition, users can check-in to places that already exist, add new places, and tag other people.
Facebook entering the geolocation market comes as no surprise, especially since it attempted to purchase Foursquare earlier this year. What is a bit surprising is the fact that Foursquare, Gowalla, Booyah, and Yelp are all partnering with Facebook and will be integrated into Places. Many people are wondering what will happen to these standalone services now that Facebook is in the game. Can they survive?
Early reactions from people still indicate strong support for them. For example, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley tweeted that yesterday was the services “biggest day ever in terms of new user signups.”
Privacy is another issue that is raising concerns about Places. Facebook has had its share of privacy mishaps and it looks like Places will not be an exception. The primary issue is that a user’s check-ins will appear by default on his profile, in the news feed, and in the activity stream for the place in which he checked in. Also, by default, friends can check-in other friends without seeking permission or approval.
Although Facebook allows its users to customize their settings to their own preference, the ACLU has already spoken out about these concerns.
What is your take on Facebook Places? Do you think other location services will be able to compete with Facebook? What about privacy – do these issues concern you?
Facebook Places is currently available in the U.S. on the most recent version of Facebook’s iPhone application and through touch.facebook.com, if your mobile browser supports HTML5 and geolocation. The social network said it would expand the feature to other countries and other mobile platforms in the near future.