10: Places

(EN: Repeating this notice at the head of each chapter: the specific details of this book are likely outdated, but the core concepts of social networking are likely timeless.)

Given the popularity of location-based social applications, Facebook has experimented with "places" to enable users to share their locations via certain mobile devices. The feature is not available on their Web site, reasoning that people don't go anywhere with their home computers (EN: Which is largely right, but overlooks the use of public computers or WAN access via a laptop, or use of the Web site from a tablet device, etc. So it seems a missed opportunity for FB to enable users to update location from the normal site)

In addition to posting your present location, the "places" service enables users to tag photos or events with a physical location.

Share a Location

The way Places is used varies according to the device/site/ap[p used, but it generally involves going to a "places" tab and clicking "check in" to announce your location. This will appear on your wall and in news feeds.

(EN: A word on this ... location sharing has met with mixed responses from the FB community, but it is largely a matter of frequency. A person who constantly updates their location, several times a day, is generally regarded as a nuisance. Exceptions are rare.)

For phones that have GPS capabilities, Facebook can pinpoint location on a map (as accurately as civilian-grade GPS can) and attempt to resolve the location to a given place (a restaurant, office, or whatnot) - you can override this setting.

For phones that do not have GPS capabilities, you must enter your location in text, and FB will attempt to autofill to the name of a known place.

Managing Places

On the topic of known places, FB attempts to reconcile physical locations to specific places - as it's more meaningful to say "I'm at Starbucks" than to show a pin on a map or raw GPS coordinates.

As noted above, you can give a place a name when entering your location and FB will attempt to reference that to a known place.

Known places have pages on Facebook that contain additional information. These pages include a wall showing people who checked in to them, posted photos or comments related to the place, etc.

Users can also create their own places ("My Apartment") and have some ability to edit information about places that others have created. (EN: Apparently, even one that has been created by someone else - though when I attempt to edit a place, the heading reads "Suggest information", implying that it will be reviewed or validated somehow - the author doesn't go into details about this). However, users cannot delete a place from the FB database.

While there is no prominent affordance for accessing places from the Web site, you can edit a post made from a mobile device that pertains to a place, and click through to see place pages that you and others have created.

(EN: In general, there seems to be some ambiguity and overlap when it comes to "places" - a restaurant may have its own FB profile, someone may have created a fan page for it, and then it has a "places" page. It doesn't seem to be consistent as to which of these is linked when a place is named, either in a location update or a status/wall posting ... I expect it's something that will eventually be coordinated and worked out, but is presently a bit clumsy.)

Another function of Place pages is to view places nearby your present location to see if friends have checked in recently. (EN: The author says this without much detail, and I don't see a convenient or logical way of doing so in the app I am using - not to say it might not exist on other platforms or third-party apps.)

Tag Friends at a Place

In "a few" mobile applications, you can also tag friends that are with you. You may do so in a comment (FB tries to reconcile an entered name to a person's profile) or in a special "Tag Friends With You" field.

The author suggests some discretion - some people are averse to the notion of disclosing their present physical location on a Web site. If you are such a person, you can change your settings to prevent people from associating your FB profile to a place (though they can still name you, it will not link) or remove tags later (again, it must be a formal "tag" and not a mention of your name in a comment).

Check Info and Add Photos for a Place

The author returns to the notion of adding and editing details about a location: categories, name, address, phone, web site, and hours.

A photo may be associated to a place by attaching it to a comment, or tagging the place when managing the image in their own album.

Links are provided on places pages for the owner of a business to claim it and gain control over the information presented, or for any individual to create a "page" about it (creating pages is described in a later chapter).

Discounts for Using Places

FB has also attempted to mimic the functionality of other social media sites by enabling business owners to provide online coupons, which can be effective in getting FB users to promote the business to their friends.

The author describes various types of offers - for the user, for groups of friends, for a single visit or after a certain number of visits, and the like.

(EN: The author provides scant detail, and I haven't seen this in my own experience. I'm left with the general sense that it is not currently used by many places.)

Places Privacy

Presently, FB does not automatically report your location, so control over privacy is implicit: your location will only be disclosed if you choose to share it.

The author suggests that there is also a section under privacy settings that indicates allows you to set a default for who may see location posts (EN: The author's instructions are inaccurate or outdated, as I was unable to find this on my own. I did notice in the tagging section that you can disable people from tagging you when they post their locations, though.)

Security Concerns

(EN: The author provides no advice or warning about the wisdom of posting your location to a Web site, at all. It's a matter of debate and personal preference whether to be indifferent or paranoid about the potential of another person to know where you are and assemble, from your previous posts, a sense of the places you regularly visit - but you should be aware of that potential and make an informed choice.)