Facebook follows you with 'Places'

The home page of Facebook displayed on a laptop screen.

TEXT OF STORY

Tess Vigeland: I finally, reluctantly, joined Facebook a couple of weeks ago. Late to the party, I know. Turns out it's very much like a party -- fun parts and seriously dull parts. Like reading where you ate dinner last night. But now, I don't even have to read a post to know about that dinner. I can find out where you are at any given moment in time, thanks to Facebook Places. It's the next step in a predicted Internet smackdown between Facebook and Google.

Marketplace's Adriene Hill reports.


Adriene Hill: Facebook's Places feature works something like this: You decide to go out to a restaurant. You hop on your iPhone and "check in," sending out a status update to all your Facebook friends with your location. If they see your update, they might want to join you, or the restaurant owner might offer you a free drink if you post.

Letting friends pinpoint friends is just another way of keeping them on Facebook longer -- and another way Facebook is taking on Google.

Ray Valdes: At the end of the day people have only a limited amount of time.

Ray Valdes is a tech analyst at Gartner. He says even though the experience of using Google and Facebook are different, there's a fight for people's Internet attention.

There may soon be fights over local ad dollars, too. Facebook didn't say how it plans to make money with the new service, but analyst Debra Aho Williamson with eMarketer says there are plenty of possibilities.

Debra Aho Williamson: I really believe sooner rather than later that marketing is going to be a very integral part of this, and that's where Facebook is going to generate some new revenue.

Because Facebook knows so much about you -- who you are, where you are and what you like -- that can make it easy for advertisers to tailor their message.

Like other Facebook applications, Places has raised some privacy concerns. You can use the feature to broadcast not only where you are, but where your friends are -- without their permission. And, Williamson says, it's easy to make stupid mistakes.

Williamson: There's always going to be people who are not so smart, and go to a baseball game when they're supposed to be at work. And check in there and forget their boss is their friend on Facebook.

Might be time to review your friend list.

I'm Adriene Hill for Marketplace.

About the author

Adriene Hill is the senior multimedia reporter for LearningCurve.

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