Similar to Foursquare, Facebook Places gives you the ability to share your location in the world with friends and view your friends’ location. “Checking in” and sharing your location is simple:
Go to Places on the iPhone application or touch.facebook.com site and then tap the “Check In” button. You’ll see a list of places near you. Choose the place that matches where you are. If it’s not on the list, search for it or add it. After checking in, your check-in will create a story in your friends’ News Feeds and show up in the Recent Activity section on the page for that place.
You can even “tag” friends that are with you, just as you can tag a friend in a status update or photo. You can also post an update along with your check-in to tell people more about what you are doing. The “People Here Now” section reveals a list of nearby Facebook users, whether they are “friends” or not. People will only show up in this list if they are checked into the same location as you.
Privacy concerns are an ongoing issue at Facebook HQ, so they made sure to highlight ways to tweak Places options. The default setting shares your location and previously tagged locations with friends only; you have to option to change the master privacy control to “Everyone” if you like. You also have the option whether or not to allow your friends to check you in to places. If you let them do so, you will receive notification every time you are checked into a place. You can always remove yourself from the places you’ve been checked or tagged into, just as you can remove your name from a tagged photo. Want to learn more about controlling your privacy with Places? Watch this helpful and informative video from Lifehacker that goes through the motions step-by-step.
Facebook Places is only available on the iPhone in the US. In order to access the new feature you must download the free update for the Facebook app. Along with Places, version 3.2 brings background photo and video uploads (for iOS4 users), some visual and loading enhancements, and various bug fixes. Got an Android and Blackberry device? Point your browser to touch.facebook.com to access an HTML 5 version of Places to join the fun. Facebook is working on bring Places to other mobile devices and more countries. They have opened up a Places API for third party developers like Foursquare, Gowalla, and Yelp to use in their respective services.