Facebook have announced a geo-location feature for the worlds most popular social network. It will allow you to check in to locations very like other geo services like Gowalla and Foursquare. In fact both of these companies were at the launch and talked about their plans to integrate further their products with Facebook. You will also be able to tag places as well as people in photographs. The fact that you can tag a person to a place has already raised privacy concerns.
Facebook released a new version of Facebook for the iPhone, which I downloaded this morning. Unfortunately the new service is being rolled out to users over time and needless to say that Blackburn has not been part of the initial roll out. So I know that Facebook Places exists, but cannot do anything with it yet. There is no update to the Android version of Facebook and I am reliably informed that the BlackBerry version has not been updated either. Nor can I see it in a browser on either my laptop or the touch version on my Nexus One. In short, I’ve got it, but I can’t get it!
I currently use both Gowalla and Foursquare, but I am the only person out of my circle of friends to do so, most of who are on Facebook so it will be interesting to see whether they adopt this new feature. Personally I think that they will. The reason they have not used Foursquare or Gowalla is doubt to ignorance of their existence. By having the facility within Facebook it will allow them to take advantage of the service without having to go to any other sites.
So I guess this is the real reason that Facebook are doing this. If you can keep people on your site for longer you stop them using other services. If you can stop them using other services you start to gain control of the Net in general. If you can control the part of the Net people are accessing then you can charge a premium rate for advertising in that space. At the launch yesterday Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that they had no plans to monetise Facebook Places. He won’t need to, if things go his way then he will be able to bring in more advertising to Facebook in general.
Slightly off topic, I noticed that after I updated the iPhone Facebook App that when I update a status there is a little padlock icon under the input box that allows me to choose who I share this status with, Friends only, Friends of Friends, Everybody. Good little addition I thought. It is also on the main Facebook site, but as I tend to only access FB through my phone I do not know if this is new or has been there a while.
Will you be using Facebook Places? Can you use Facebook Pages? Leave me a comment and let me know.