Facebook Places goes live in UK
Facebook has switched on its controversial Places feature in the UK.
Places, which was launched in the US last month, allows Facebook users to share their location with other members of the social network.
Users of Facebook’s iPhone app are this morning being asked whether they want to share their location, although in our early tests the service is not exactly pinpointing our exact location. When we gave the app permission to publish our data, it located us at a Tesco supermarket which is more than 500 yards away.
That’s because Facebook doesn’t specify exact locations, in the same way Google Latitude does for example, but assigns users to their nearest pre-defined “place”, which is currently public buildings such as shops, train stations or venues. However, Facebook users can add new places to the map, raising the possibility of much more accurate location data over time.
Places doesn’t only share your location with friends, but with the entire social network. So, for example, we can see which other Facebook members are (supposedly) located at the supermarket, although we can only see the profile information that they’ve chosen to make public.
Places will add to the privacy concerns that have dogged Facebook in recent times. However, the social network insists that Places is an opt-in service and users can tweak their privacy settings so that their location is only displayed to friends, rather than the general Facebook public.
Facebook Places also poses a potential threat to other popular location-based services such as Foursquare, which allows users to discover friends in and around their current location.