Feeds

Facebook Places - why, and why not

How to avoid being physically poked

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Opinion Facebook has added a My Location button, initially just to the iPhone client. But why would you want everyone to know where you are, and how can you prevent that happening?

Facebook now wants to know where you are, or at least where you'd like people to think you are, and expects your friends to shop you if you don't bother checking in yourself. The more exhibitionist user might be happy for everyone to know their location, but the rest of us need to delve into our Facebook settings to turn off the new feature.

The new iPhone Facebook client (in the App store) already has Places built in, and it won't be long before it spreads to the other mobile platforms. But even if you've no intention of telling everyone where you are you might find that someone else is doing it for you.

The obsession with sharing afflicts a generation to whom Facebook is an integral part of life, who update their status with such regularity that Places is automating an already-familiar process rather than doing anything new. Similar service Foursquare offers much the same functionality, through a dedicated app that integrates with Facebook and Twitter, but reckons that Facebook Places won't hurt its business.

Foursquare provides an incentive to keep updating in the form of virtual awards. Be the Foursquare user who visits a location most often and you are declared 'Mayor' of that location, a position with no salary but the respect of your peers (assuming your peers respect that kind of thing). A place that gets 50 users checked in within an hour gets awarded with a "swarm badge" - apparently highly valued by Foursquare users.

Facebook users are already comfortable with virtual rewards and gifts so this kind of model will no doubt quickly spread into the Facebook world. Foursquare reckons that Facebook Places will complement its service, and it will certainly want to integrate as closely as possible to avoid being sidelined.

But not everyone will be happy sharing their location or having it shared for them, and while the options to switch off those services do exist they are far from obvious. You might feel that the lack of GPS on your phone will protect you, but that won't stop those you know reporting where you are.

Assuming you've not just disconnected from Facebook entirely, you'll need to go into Privacy Settings, and then click on "Custom" and "Customise settings". Here you'll find the three settings you'll want to change. The first is sharing of "Places I check in", which you can make visible only to yourself (just in case you check in accidentally). Next you might want to disable "People here now" flag - again that should only be an issue if you accidentally check in, or fancy using Facebook Places but not appearing on lists of people nearby.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, scroll down and disable "Friends can check me in to places", just to make sure that no one decides to use the service on your behalf. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging
One of 6 backers for new 60 Tbps cable to hook US to Japan
Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app
An app and service where other people 'see' for you
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.