Avoid the Pitfalls of Facebook Places

places_iconFacebook is certainly taking liberties with the nonstop upgrades on its features. It seems as if every day, we find something new, or something that has been changed. This time, Facebook has expanded on its Places feature, making it widely available in countries such as Bulgaria, Brazil, Egypt, India, Israel, Philippines, and South Africa. This feature made headlines when it first came out, mainly because of the “revolutionary” way in which it connected “friends”. Places is a feature that allows users to broadcast where they are currently located by “checking in” through the use of their mobile phones. Right off the bat, you’ll see that it’s a security disaster waiting to happen.

About Facebook Places

Facebook Places is marketed as a way for people to broadcast where they are and what they’re doing. But more importantly, users of Facebook Places will ‘never miss a chance to connect (with friends) when they’re at the same place at the same time’. It’s an attractive lure, surely, especially if you’re a people person. However, here’s the clincher: ‘friends’ is a very loose term in social networking sites. If you’re not careful, you can be friends with a complete psychopath and you wouldn’t even know it until he shows up at your doorstep. Deception is easily done online, and people simply lack awareness on the importance of protecting their online privacy. Facebook Places is a feature that would show the world where you are and where you’re not. Who sees your location depends on your privacy settings; it depends on whether you’ve chosen ‘Everyone, Friends and Networks, Friends of Friends, or Friends Only’. If you check in, all of these people you allow to see your profile will also know where to find you – crazy psychopath “friend” included.

So you’re probably thinking, ‘easy, then I simply won’t post my location’, right? Well, not quite. Your friends could also ‘tag’ you into a place. Friends are mostly just well-meaning people who do things without thinking sometimes. Some of your friends may not know that they’re putting you at risk by tagging you. They could just be thinking that they’re ‘including’ you in the circle by tagging you at Facebook Places – which is touching, really, but horrible for security. You can, however, control this by disabling the feature in your security settings tab. You can, of course, remove the tag if you want – but who knows who’ll have seen your location by then.

For maximum privacy and security regarding Facebook Places, you should edit the following controls:

  1. Set “Places I check in to” to “Only Me”
  2. Include me in “People Here Now” after I check in – Do not check this box
  3. Friends can check me in to Places – Disable

All of the settings mentioned above are accessed via the Privacy Settings in the top right-hand corner.


Places Going Global

Before, Places was just available in selected countries. It, of course, started in the US. Then Japan followed, and then the UK just days after, and so on and so forth. The problem with this new update is that it wasn’t even announced that it would be made available to the new countries listed. The users there might have zero idea that the feature actually exists, unless they’re observant. If you live in any of these countries, you should check to see if the privacy settings that you’re using are what you actually prefer rather than what Facebook ‘recommends’.


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