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Facebook launches location-tracking Places Deals

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Facebook sank its teeth into more corners of Europe’s consumer market today, with the launch of a new mobile phone feature that it has dubbed ‘Places Deals’.

The social network’s latest service tentacle rewards users who are happy to provide information about their whereabouts to Facebook with discounts and other offers.

Places Deals has been live in the US since November last year, and today the service was launched in the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Canada.

Facebook has inked a deal with Starbucks, which is offering cups of hot coffee-coloured milk to anyone who “checks in” to Places Deals today.

Beyond that the Mark Zuckerberg-run outfit has partnered with Debenhams, Argos, Alton Towers, O2 and Mazda.

The idea behind the feature is to lead Facebookers to discounts and offers from shops and restaurants.

Mobile operator O2’s decision to pile into an agreement with Facebook is significant given that various tech companies, including Apple, are said to be looking at ways of getting more punters to pay for goods via their phones, rather than using credit cards.

Facebook’s latest feature, meanwhile, is an inevitable extension to the firm’s Places service, which was knitted into the social network last year and among other things has been labelled a "targeting pack" for terrorists by the UK's Ministry of Defence.

It allowed people to reveal their location to ‘friends’ via their mobile phone, which according to privacy advocates represented a data land grab that competed with information harvesting expert Google.

Facebook will doubtless be hoping that attaching offers and discounts to Places will entice more people to use the service, and thereby help grow revenue at the soon-to-be public company.

Up to now Facebook has been surprisingly quiet about the number of users who actually ‘check in’ to Places, which perhaps hints that the figures aren’t as tasty as the firm would like. Perhaps the addition of Deals will change that. ®

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