You know by now that Places is a location feature mobile app that competes with the likes of Foursquare and Gowalla. (And is it just me or does the Places icon look like a rip-off of Foursquare? Isn’t that a 4 in there?) It allows users to ‘check in’ to real world locations and to tag their friends as present (similar to how Facebook allows tagging in photos).
The controversy – and there is plenty of that – is that anyone who is checked in to the location can see who else is listed as ‘here now’.
Your location history provides a rather, erm, detailed picture of your physical life. Some locations might appear just fine one moment, and later become something you rather wished you’d strolled right on by.
On the personal front, your Facebook friends may include bitchy bloggers, business rivals and former jilted squeezes (who you really should Unfriend…). You’d probably want to keep your location private from them.
The opportunities for businesses are more apparent. And urgent. You can ‘claim’ your place on Facebook to take advantage of localized advertising now or down the road as the service percolates. It’s a bit like registering your domain name. Claiming your business prevents nasty, greedy squatters from holding your business name to ransom later. So get to it.
For both personal and business, there will be privacy issues. Facebook is no stranger to those.
I do wonder though what will happen to Foursquare and Gowalla. My guess is that this will be like that classic genre-busting film Bambi Meets Godzilla. And we all know how that one ended.