Will Facebook 'Places' change the world?

The online giant has unveiled its new location-sharing function. Has Mark Zuckerberg found social networking's "holy grail"?

Facebook's new feature allows users to broadcast their location to friends and find friends nearby.
(Image credit: Corbis)

Facebook unveiled its long-awaited "Places" feature Wednesday evening, allowing users in the U.S. to continually broadcast their location. Much like social networking site Foursquare, Places users can "check in" at various venues (say, a restaurant or a bar) and track the whereabouts of their friends. Will Facebook's newest feature catch on? (Watch a report explaining the "Places" feature)

This Foursquare rip-off will be a big hit: Places is a "straight rip-off" of Foursquare, says Nicholas Carlson in Business Insider. Unfortunately for that company, "Facebook's 500 million users won't care that Facebook got the idea for this product from elsewhere." Not only that, they will "love it and use it – a lot."

"Facebook Places is an obvious Foursquare rip-off and it's going to be huge"

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The only people using this will be burglars: I'll be "scrambling to disable" Places, says Chris Rawson in The Unofficial Apple Weblog. Letting everyone know where you are all the time is "the electronic equivalent of hanging a big sign in front of your house saying 'I'm away from home, PLEASE ROB ME!'" When you factor in Facebook's "questionable privacy record," it's enough to send any thinking person into "paroxysms of paranoia."

"Facebook for iPhone updated with 'Places'"

Good for business, bad for users: "From a marketer’s perspective," advertising strategist Ken Johns tells the Financial Times, Places is "the holy grail." By broadcasting the exact location of users, Places allows businesses "to talk to people on an individual basis" — something that is extremely valuable for advertisers. But "from a consumer's perspective," that level of contact could be "pretty scary."

"Facebook unveils location-sharing service"

You'll never be anonymous again: A particularly troubling aspect to Places is that other people can "tag" you at a given location, says Adrian Chen at Gawker. After all, there are plenty of occasions when you might not want your friends or your "significant other/spouse/boss" to know where you are. Places effectively robs you of the ability to make that decision. Disable this immediately, or prepare for "social doom."

"The first thing you should do with Facebook Places: Don't let other people tag you"

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