Facebook Places for UK: all you need to know
17th Sep 2010 | 07:26
It's all about location, location, location
Facebook Places unveiled
Facebook has announced this week that its location-based service Places has come to the UK.
Places first arrived back in August in the US and the more eagle-eyed of you will have spotted that there has been a dormant link to it on the UK Facebook iPhone app since then.
Its arrival in the US sparked something of an outcry from privacy supporters who felt letting others know where you are at any given moment could turn you into bait for stalkers.
But that was last month, which means we have had a bit more time to digest just what Facebook Places means to everyday users of Facebook and not just fan the flames of the privacy debate.
So, here are some of the facts about Facebook Places and just why it's going to be a social-network game-changer:
It brings social networking into the real world
It's all very well speaking to your mates online or liking their status updates, but it isn't as good as meeting up face to face over a drink or two.
Facebook Places allows you to do that, keeping track of where your friends are.
It's a recommendation engine
If you spot that someone goes regularly to a certain café, then it's probably because they really like the place – or they fancy the waitress. Places opens up where you live and may offer different places and things to see and do.
This is similar to what Foursquare has done, but changed going to places into a game of one-upmanship.
It turns your phone into the main place for Facebook
Twitter's explosive growth isn't just to do with the amount of celebrities using the thing but because it is so easily accessible from a mobile phone.
Facebook has gone some way to improving its phone apps, but the service is still primarily looked at on a computer.
Places gives the mobile phone version of Facebook a massive USP – it means that there is now a reason to use the social network on your phone as well as your desktop.
Makes bumping into people that little bit easier
It's fair to say that most of us don't actually meet up with the majority of our friends on Facebook. Some may want to keep it that way, but Places is focusing on the ones who wouldn't mind meeting up with real people once every so often.
So, if you sign up you will be notified if a person is in a similar area to you. This could also act as a warning if you definitely don't want to meet up with a particular person.
It changes friends into tour guides
If you are going to a place you have never been before and someone on your network has been there, Places allows them to offer travel advice, recommendations and the like.
More about Facebook Places
It can be used to boast
If you use your status to boast about all the cool things you are doing on a day to day basis, then you will be de-friended. It's the British way – nobody likes a boaster and nobody likes that you are having such an awesome time all of the time.
With Places it means that you aren't actually doing the boasting, the service does it for you.
So if you happen to be in Kenya one week, Tokyo the next and up the Eiffel Tower the week after, Places will let your network know.
It'll kick-start your social life / stop you missing out
There's nothing worse than peer pressure making you do things, but at least it gets you out of the house. Facebook Places will let you know just what you are missing out on when you say no to an event, even though you are free to go to it.
Once you see updates of all your mates going to your favourite bar, then you will probably end up going along, which isn't exactly a bad thing.
Facebook Places certainly isn't for everyone. If you just use Facebook to laugh at what your 'friends' from school have done with their life, then you will have no use in finding out who is where and when.
But Facebook is a social network and for those who want to be social then it does open up the possibility of meeting your friend group face to face and not through a computer.