On Wednesday Facebook unveiled a new service called Facebook Places. This service allows you to share your exact location by "checking in" to that place and letting your friends know that you are there.
In order to use this feature you will need to install the Facebook application for iPhone
or browse to touch.facebook.com
using a mobile web browser that supports HTML 5 and geolocation. Facebook Places will then use the GPS data from your phone to display locations around you that you can "check into" so that your friends know that you are there. As of right now, Facebook Places will only show your location to your friends unless you specifically give permission to allow everyone to see it. Once you are checked into a location you can then select the People Here Now feature of Facebook places to find other friends who may be in the same location as yourself.
Facebook states that this feature is designed to help you become more social and to find friends who may at the same location as you. On the darker side, services like this also broadcast that you are not at home, which allows people with a criminal intent more access to your information and location. Therefore, make sure you only allow your friends to see your location and not to set it to Everyone.
Location and check-in services are not new by any means. In 2009 two companies debuted location services of their own. These two companies are Foursquare
, with Foursquare becoming the dominant location service. This new service offering by Facebook is definitely ruffling, if not plucking, some feathers at these two companies as competing with a 500 million user gorilla is going to be very hard task.