I’ve been a Foursquare user for a while. I’ll admit at first I didn’t get it and it seemed a little creepy to be broadcasting to the world exactly where I was. Soon enough, the hesitation faded and the addiction set in.
So you can imagine that I was a kid in a candy store last week when Facebook launched Places. Places allows you to check in using a Facebook mobile application to a location and even tag the friends you are with. Since more people use Facebook then Foursquare, this is really big news for the millions of somewhat reasonable people who will not be able to resist the temptation to shout out to their social network, “Here I am!”
A single friend shared with me recently that he felt quite complimented when another female friend told him he would make a great husband. His chest puffed out a little as he said thanks, and asked what made her think that. She responded that his wife would never have to wonder where he was because he was always checking in online and broadcasting it. The initial warmth of the perceived compliment along with his inflated chest deflated a bit. However, the reality is a quick skim of your Facebook newsfeed will result in an instant knowing of the whereabouts of several of your friends.
This new found transparency offered by location-based technologies does have drawbacks. For example, the online world has been buzzing over the ability Facebook gave the Places feature to check your friends in somewhere with you without their explicit approval or permission. The concern is that your friend doesn’t actually have to be there to be tagged there. We can all imagine the headlines as we learn of a couple who split up because the guy’s friends checked him into “places” he shouldn’t have been and the spouse didn’t believe he wasn’t there. Fun times!
By the way, you might want to visit your privacy settings in Facebook, click customize settings and disable “friends can check me into places” if you have some friends with skewed senses of humor.
Another task to consider is claiming your place (or business) on Facebook Places. If you have a brick and mortar location, chances are that before long, someone is going to check in there. You should claim your Place and ensure that the information about your business is accurate by becoming the administrator of your location. Once you claim the location of your business, it automatically gets a Facebook page.
The cage match between Foursquare and Facebook is on. Fueled by the millions of Americans who just can’t resist sharing their whereabouts with everyone on their social network. It’s amazing how our boundaries and definition of privacy keeps evolving.