Facebook Places Goes Live in the US :
Facebook has finally unveiled its greatly anticipated geo-location feature. Named Facebook Places, how else, it's pretty standard in terms of features, but also rather complete. Facebook Places enables users to check in at any location and see if any of their friends are there as well.
"Starting today, you can immediately tell people about that favorite spot with Facebook Places. You can share where you are and the friends you're with in real time from your mobile device," Michael Eyal Sharon, Facebook Places product manager, announced.
The feature went live in the US, though it is being rolled out gradually so it may not be available to everyone just yet. You can access Facebook Places from the latest version of the Facebook iPhone app or from any mobile device by visiting touch.facebook.com.
If you want to check in at a location, go to either the app or the website and hit the "Check in" button. You'll have to allow the app to access your location and then choose from a list of places near you. If the place you want is not on the list, you can add it.
If all of this sounds familiar it's because that's how everyone else is doing it as well. Most notably, it's very similar to Foursquare, arguably the most popular if not the biggest location-based service out there, albeit without the 'game' elements.
A nice touch, but one that is already raising concerns, is that you can tag the friends who are with you before you check in. This checks them in as well and it will show up on their profiles just like if they had done it themselves.
By default, based on your global privacy settings, friends are checked in automatically and without confirmation. You can specifically reject the ones you don't want to be able to check you into places, or change your privacy settings to disable the 'tag' feature. You'll also be notified every time someone checks you into a place.
Once you've used Facebook Places at a location, you can see if any of your friends are close by as well. You can also see who else has checked in, even if they're not your friends, in the "People Here Now" section, as long as they shared their location publicly.
Facebook Places is now live in the US, but will be launched internationally later. Facebook hasn't specified a timeline for this to happen. While the feature is hardly revolutionary, it does open up location services to a whole new audience and Facebook could instantly become the leading player in the market, thanks to its huge audience alone.
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