Facebook introduced Places into the location based services fray recently, and so far, it seems to have several issues, including issues with its logo. Many people think it is a not very well disguised copy of Foursquare’s logo, a location based service competitor and one of the first in the field.
One other problem? It’s just plain boring. There are no game mechanics involved – you don’t “win” anything, you don’t get anything interesting like badges or rewards for location loyalty like you do in Foursquare and Gowalla – it just “check you in” on your Facebook wall so you friends can see and either envy you or meet you, I suppose. The trick is that Foursquare already posted to the Facebook wall, so there was no need for Facebook to enter into the location fray.
Another issue is the ongoing one of privacy on Facebook. Unsurprisingly, as Facebook rolled out places they made it so that everyone was opted in automatically whether they wanted to be or not, as per usual for them. More disturbing? Your friends can check you in, unless you go into your privacy settings in two separate locations to opt out of that feature.
That’s right – your friends (or enemies) can check you in to anything, anywhere, no matter how it looks to folks, even if you aren’t actually there. So, go turn that “feature” off, if you do nothing else. Otherwise some joker friend will check you into Your Mom’s Pants strip club and it will go to your wall – for your mom to see.
Facebook didn’t even make it easy for a business to claim their Place yet. As of right now, you have to have had someone check into your Place already, then go find a check in, then claim it that way. If your business hasn’t made a Facebook page yet? You won’t be able to claim it. If you don’t have a personal profile to “own” the fan page? You can’t make one of those either. That can be a huge multi step time sink for the time cramped business owner.
If you are looking into why Facebook Places would be useful for your personal use or for a business right now I’d advise you to hold off a while longer. I’d want them to do some more to control privacy around sensitive data like your location, and to make the privacy controls easier to find. For the business, I’d wait until it was useful to claim your business, for example to enable specials and other incentives for customers.