Yesterday we were all treated to Facebook's
big announcement of its new location service, called Places
. To read the breathless coverage on the tech blogs
, you'd think this was the announcement of V-E Day
. As it turns out, the new service is fairly straightforward. It will nevertheless bring Facebook into competition, sort of (see below), with such place-based social-networking sites as Foursquare
will allow those on the 500-million-user social network to
"check in" to locations from their mobile devices -- thus letting others
in their networks know where they are, and when -- as well as "tag"
others with you at a location. (That means you can broadcast the
coordinates of other people, as well as yourself. Great.) A somewhat
creepily titled "People Here Now" feature allows you to see who among your peer group is at a given restaurant, business, bar, etc.
Foursquare and other companies
will be allowed to publish their own users' "check-ins" over Facebook feeds, but Places clearly threatens to crowd out these companies, particularly if users decide to consolidate all their location-based social networking on one platform.
Why would you want to periodically publish your physical whereabouts online in the first place? Isn't this service ripe for abuse by stalkers, kidnappers, or anyone generally inclined to track down and harass their acquaintances? Well, there are at least three potential benefits to a service like Places.
If you're a user of this service, you theoretically might want to find out what cool places your friends are visiting, or when they might be in your vicinity on a night out.
If you're a business, you get access to a trove of information about your customers' patronage habits.
Lastly, if you're a provider of a location-based service, such as Foursquare or Facebook, you get to make a mudslide of cash off one more piece of inane and socially useless "social" media before your founders cash out with an acquisition or IPO. Bravo!Image | quintanomedia
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