Facebook Places – What You Need to Know

Facebook unveiled its new Places feature today. What does this feature do? Why should you care? How can you adjust your account settings?

What does this feature do?

Facebook Places is a geolocation or location-based functionality where you can “check in” via Facebook and let your friends (or the world) know where you are at any given moment. The functionality currently works with iPhones and can also be accessed with other smartphones via the web. Android and BlackBerry support is said to be coming soon.

Why should you care?

Not everyone wants others to literally know where they are – with GPS precision. There are the obvious safety issues to consider and it is probably not a great idea to tell the world you’re on vacation and exactly where – nothing like pointing a neon sign to your empty house! The feature is automatically enabled in your account, but if you don’t actively check in, your location probably won’t appear on your profile or in anyone else’s feed.

If you don’t want your location shared, ever, you should update your account’s privacy settings so that others cannot check you in.

How can you adjust your account settings to completely opt out?

Go to Accounts and choose Privacy Settings. In the list of settings you control, you’ll see a new one called Places I Check In. Click on the Customize Setting option. When you get to the next screen, in the Things I Share area you will see a choice for Places I Check In – choose the level of privacy you want. If you don’t want your location to ever be shown, choose Only Me from the options.

To make sure no one else can check you in either, you’ll need to change another setting. In the Things Others Share section, scroll down to the Friends Can Check Me In to Places option and disable it.

How much information you want to share about your real time, actual location is an individual choice. Just make sure you know how your settings are configured so that information you do not want to be shared remains private.

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