Facebook Places - Location Based GPSFacebook Places (Location) is here! Facebook announced today that this new service will be available to all US users. Facebook Places will be rolled out to the rest of the world shortly on all mobile platforms. Just like Foursquares, Facebook will offer a “Check-in” process where you can tag friends while you visit places such as pubs, clubs and restaurants. Android and Blackberry mobile applications will also be updated to take into account Facebook Places. All mobile devices that support Facebook will support this new function in the future.

What exactly is Facebook Places?

If you find a really cool restaurant, pub, club, music band or camping site, you might want to tell all your friends about it. As of today (Currently USA only), you can mark the spot on your mobile phone and tell all your friends including tagging friends who are at the location – yes all done in real time. You can also find out who is near by. Example: You’ve gone to see a football game, and find out that your friends are also at the game because they “Checked-In” at the stadium. Selecting “People here now” will list all friends at your location as well.

How is this different to Foursquare? Well we think it’s almost the same, providing the same sort of services and options as Foursquare. Business will be able to reward customers for check-in to their business as well as a host of advertising opportunities for small business. With Facebook’s large member base, it won’t take long before this service is picked up by all and used everyday for location based information. Facebook Places will be able to link to your Facebook business Profile / Page as well so you can offer discounts / coupons when people “Check-in” to your business.

In summary Facebook Places allows you to “Check-In” to places, see where your friends are, tag friends who are with you at the location, add a status message to your location and interact with businesses who offer discounts, coupons and specials for “Check-ins”.

Worried about Privacy Issues with location based tagging? If using location based information, you should familiar yourself with the privacy settings from Facebook. Yes – users will know where you are and the exact location. Your friends might find it useful however in the wrong hands; some friends can abuse this function. (They know your not home!). The main problem with Privacy and Facebook Places as we see is not the information we share about ourselves, rather how our friends share information about us. (Including the issue of how 3rd party API’s and applications use this information.).

Want to switch off Facbook Places? Instructions from Demand your Dot Rights:

Adjusting “Check-In” Visibility, Turning “Friend Check-Ins” and “Here Now” to Off
– Go to your privacy settings page and select “Customise settings“.
– Select the Places settings.
– Enable Places? (You may need to enable the product before you can change settings.)

Adjust your settings:
– To adjust who can see your “Check-ins“, use the pull down next to “who can see my location
– To disallow friend check-ins, uncheck the “Allow friends to check-in” box.
– To disable “Here Now“, uncheck the “Here Now” box
– If you want, disable Places.

Preventing Your Friends’ Apps From Receiving Your Places Info
– Go to your privacy settings page and select “Edit my settings” under the “Applications and Websites” title.
– Select “Edit settings” next to “info available through my friends“.
– Uncheck the Places check-in box.

Want to try it out? First update your mobile device application so the new features are included from Facebook. Visit your Mobile application Marketplace for any updates. Android and Blackberry updates should be online – we haven’t checked as yet. Or if your phone supports HTML5 try visiting the following link: http://touch.facebook.com/