Facebook Officially Launches “Places”

As previously documented, Facebook has released its first ever location based service, Places, according to Mashable. This application is directly available on the iPhone only at the moment, though other smartphone users can access Places by using the touch.facebook.com site. Android and Blackberry editions will eventually be released though no set dates have been announced.

Facebook users will be able to share their location with friends, locate where other friends using Places are, and find new locations near them. Specifically, capabilities will include: adding places, checking in to existing locations, and tagging friends who you are with.

This service will be launched across the entire United States within a few days, though international launch dates have yet to be determined. Facebook plans on making data available for developers. Gowalla, Foursquare, and Booyah have been sited as applications who will load data back into Places.

Businesses have much to gain from this new feature by adding their location. Places may be claimed by official representatives only and will require and official document (business license or accreditation).

In terms of privacy, always a Facebook concern, CEO Mark Zuckerberg assured naysayers that it is designed to share places with friends, not the entire Facebook world. However, checkins will be displayed on your profile by default. Additionally, similar to being tagged in photos, friends have the capability to tag you without your permission. This can be disabled by adjustment within the “Customize settings” option. As with all profile content, users can decide who views their check ins.

The capability to report false information, abusive behavior, duplicate content or a closed business is also available through flagging content, though it will not be removed immediately.

Users should be sure to revisit their privacy settings before engaging in this new feature. Overall, Places will certainly provide a new outlook on how we can utilize this social network in the future.