Facebook has announced that from today Facebook Places is starting to roll out to UK users. The service was made available in the US and Japan last month, but European users have had to wait for it to arrive in their territory.
The service is currently available via the Facebook for iPhone application or for other mobile devices via touch.facebook.com.
Facebook Places is a geo-location service that lets users ‘check-in’, letting other Facebook users know where they are, or as Facebook would have it, “find out where their friends like to hang out”. Once checked in, your ‘Friends’ can see where you are, and you can see if any of them are nearby. If you have Facebook friends with you at that location, you can tag them. You can also make and view others comments about the location.
If it sounds a little like Foursquare, that’s because it is, though Facebook focuses on the social rather than the game element, and there are no badges or similar achievement awards.
If your precise location doesn’t come up from the list of nearby locations, you can manually add it. Business can also take ownership of their location on Places, by going through a verification process – the benefit of doing so being that business can then advertise to users who check-in there.
Having got its fingers burned several times over privacy issues, Facebook is keen to let everyone know that users have full control over the privacy settings for Places. Unlike its revised privacy settings introduced last year which defaulted to sharing posts with “Everyone”, Facebook Places default ‘Check-in’ setting is to Friends only. It’s also possible to prevent other users from tagging you if you don’t wish to let others know where you are.
Facebook also said that for minors, only their Friends will ever be alerted when they check-in to a location.
Inevitably, if you sign up for Places, there’s going to be some risk, so as ever, thought and vigilance are highly recommended.