How Does Facebook places Determine Whether The User Is At Or Was At
An acquaintance of yours – someone you're just ‘friends' with on Facebook – inquiries about your plans for the weekend. You'd prefer not be seen with him, so you lie (to avoid any hurt feelings). You explain that you'll be out of town. “Perhaps next time.”
Is everything clear now?
Until yesterday, only an unpleasant encounter or a blabbing buddy might reveal your identity. There's a new potential snitch in town: Facebook Places.
This week, the hugely popular social network launched a new function that reveals your location with Facebook pals and notifies you if a friend is close.
Prepare for a wide range of beneficial uses as well as unanticipated outcomes. A buddy may tag your location — real or false – destroying your white-lie alibi. If Facebook alerts you that the friend you're avoiding has just arrived at the same party, you should act quickly. In theory, you could also inform Facebook Places that you went to the beach this weekend, which would corroborate your narrative.
It remains to be seen if Facebook Places will take off, but one thing has been apparent in the first 48 hours after its launch: both using and turning off the function has confused users, reporters, and Facebook alike.
The function does not automatically enroll you in to the program, but it does need some effort to completely opt out. Unlike what Facebook originally stated, you may completely opt out of sharing any information –even being tagged by friends –through Facebook Places.
How Facebook Places Functions
When you want to let your online friends know where you are, you may “check in” and choose from a list of “places” nearby. If none of Facebook's recommendations properly explain where you are, you may add your own “places.” Your friends' News Feeds are then updated with your location information, and you may write a status update to explain what you're up to.
You may also discover whether any Facebook users in the area have checked in – even if they are not an online friend of yours.
Anyone who has checked in may “tag” people they are within the same way as they may tag friends in photographs. When you activate the let-your-friends-check-you-in function, when you are tagged, you will seem to be checked in as if you had done it yourself. If you choose not to use Facebook Places, your name will still show when you are tagged, but you will not be checked in. Checking in is a more complex version of tagging. You may always delete any identifying tags.
“Though a friend tags you at a location and you have selected ‘Allow' (or used Places yourself), it is as if you checked in yourself. In an e-mail, Facebook spokesperson Meredith Chin adds, “You will appear in the Here Now and Friends Who Have Visited.” “If a buddy tags you in a location but you haven't utilized Places or clicked ‘Not Now,' it's as if it's simply a status tag. As a result, you will be listed in the update, but you will not appear at the location.”
Buddy-initiated tags and check-ins put you in the same area as your friend — the functionality does not enable friends to check you in anywhere other than where they are checking in, and if a friend checks in or tags you, it does not display your location depending on where your device is.
In other words, “if I tag a buddy at a bar (before they arrive) and say ‘Come join me!,' the narrative will show them at The Bar, not where they are,” Ms. Chin says.
Facebook may share your check-in information with third-party applications, but only if you consent.
For the time being, the service is only available in the United States and may be accessed through the Facebook iPhone app or the mobile version of the site, touch.facebook.com. However, Facebook Places will soon begin to grow. (Your browser must support HTML 5 and geolocation in order to view the mobile site.)
How to Disable It
For some, the new function has a plethora of possible applications. Places, on the other hand, may have too much of a stalking-on-the-go vibe for others.
So, if you want to restrict what you share, here's how:
- Access your Facebook account.
- It should state “Account” in the upper right-hand corner. Select “Privacy Settings” from the drop-down menu.
- There's a tiny pencil sign next to “Customize settings” in the center of this “Choose Your Privacy Settings” page. Please click on the link.
- This is where you'll find all of your settings. The first is “Places I stay.” To the right of that is a drop-down menu with four options for who may view your location updates. Select “Customize” if you don't want anybody to be able to see where you check in, or if you want to specify which friends can and cannot view your check-ins. A pop-up menu will appear, enabling you to change your privacy settings. There is an option for “Only Me,” which effectively disables the check-in function. (Note: Disabling this does not prevent friends from tagging you in Facebook Places. See step five for instructions.)
- Below that option is the option to “Include me in ‘People Here Now' once I check in.” To disable the functionality, uncheck “Enable.” When you activate this function, you will be visible to friends and other Facebook users who are also checking in to the same location as you. Finally, you can “disable” the “Friends can check me in to Places” function. It's worth noting that even if you disable the option for friends to check you in, they may still tag you. (Note: Though it does not expressly say that deactivating this disable tagging, Chin claims that it does.)
- We're almost there. Once you've customized all of the options to your liking, click the gray “Back to Privacy” button at the top left of the screen.
- When you return to the “Choose Your Privacy Settings” screen, search for “Edit your settings” in the lower-left corner under “Applications and Websites.”
- On this screen, click the “Edit Settings” button next to “Information available via your friends.” Users may use this option to “control which of your information is accessible to apps, games, and websites when your friends use them.”
Check the box next to “Places I've Visited” in the bottom right to enable that information about you to be shared with third-party applications, games, and websites that your friends may use. If you leave the box unchecked, that information will not be shared.