Facebook, the most popular social networking site with more than 500 million user around the world, has now launched its new location check-in service – Facebook Places, . Places is Facebook’s answer on the popular Foursquare location and friend tagging service. For pinpointing the locations in “Places,” Facebook teamed up with Microsoft’s Bing Maps for Places.
The Facebook Places service is currently available through social networking site’s touch-friendly version, together with the Facebook iPhone app and will be initially implemented US users.
With Places users can tag their friends with them while checking in to locations, and Places will automatically check users in and generate news feed story showing where they are. For checking in, the Facebook users need to simply tap the ‘Places’ icon, and select a location from a list of nearby Places. The new Facebook feature “check in” option will work only if the users’ device supports HTML5 and geolocation.
Users will also be able to browse shops, clubs, and nearby landmarks to see which friends are nearby, leading to concerns it could put individual’s security at risk.
On the privacy issue, few hours after the announcement of Facebook Places, the ACLU of Northern California issued a statement saying the social network has not succeeded to create some important safeguards.
“In the world of Facebook Places, ‘no’ is unfortunately not an option,” the ACLU said in the statement. “Places allows your friends to tag you when they check in somewhere, and Facebook makes it very easy to say ‘yes’ to allowing your friends to check in for you. But when it comes to opting out of that feature, you are only given a ‘not now’ option. ‘No’ isn’t one of the easy options.”
Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt responded to ACLU statement, saying he’s “disappointed” in the ACLU of Northern California.
“Facebook Places sets a new standard for user control and privacy protection for location information,” Schnitt said in a statement to counter ACLU.
“No one can be checked in to a location without their explicit permission. Many third parties have applauded our controls, indicating that people have more protections using Facebook Places than other widely used location services available today,” Schnitt said.