Facebook Places is now live to all Facebook users in the UK. If you are a Facebook user, please ensure you understand how the feature works and how to protect yourself.
What is Facebook Places?
Places is a location based Facebook feature which has just been launched in the UK. Places allows Facebook users to see where their friends are and share their location in the real world using a location based device such as a Smartphone or mobile phone. When you use Places, you can see if any friends are currently “checked in” nearby. You can “check into” nearby Places to tell your friends where you are, tag your friends in the Places you visit, and view comments your friends have made about Places you visit.
Facebook Places hopes to enable users to connect with people in a completely new way and make real life links and if you are responsible and careful there can be some benefits to most users. However, Places does bring about several privacy and security risks especially for children or more vulnerable groups of people, as they may not consider the full implications and consequences of sharing either their own or their friends real world location online, potentially with strangers.
Your location is not automatically shared by Facebook and is only shared when you (or your friends) check in to a Place. Facebook users have control over whether and with whom they share your check-ins. However Facebook Places is an Opt Out rather than Opt in application, so all users need to be aware how to ensure they use it appropriately (if at all).
How can I change the settings?
In the “Customize settings” section of your main privacy settings, simply select the drop-down box next to “Places I check in to” and select one of the four recommended settings: Everyone, Friends and Networks, Friends of Friends, or Friends Only. Alternatively, you can make the locations you check in to visible to or hidden from specific people by clicking “Custom” – you can also choose “only me” which is the most restrictive setting and is the closet option to opting out.
If you don’t want your friends to be able to check you into Places, (meaning friends can potentially share your current location with others), then select the drop down box in “Things Others Share” called “Friends can check me in to Places.” If you don’t want your friends to be able to “check” you into places then set this to “Disabled”. Keep in mind that if you enable this setting then any friend could potentially check you in any place even if you are not there.
How do I remove my name when a friend has tagged me in a place?
If a friend has tagged you in a Place and you would like to remove your name, then go to the Place story (which can be found on your profile, your friend’s profile, or the Place page) and select “Remove Tag.” You will no longer be connected to that Place. Only your confirmed friends on Facebook are able to tag you in a Place and only if you have enabled them to do so.
How does Places Privacy work for under 18s?
Facebook have reduced the visibility of information for anyone under 18 (assuming they signed up with the correct date of birth). With the Places application in particular, under 18s will only be able to share their locations with people on their friends list on Facebook (it is essential that young people understand this when accepting online friends or setting up a profile). Even if they have set all other information on their profile as visible to “Everyone”, the settings for places will automatically be restricted and only their friends list will be able to see Places he or she has visited.
For further information please visit Facebook’s Help Section on Places
BBC News Report can be found here