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Facebook Places … Will Proceed, with Caution

August 19, 2010

So Facebook has decided Foursquare and Gowalla and their friends were having all the fun in the location-broadcasting business, so it has launched Places. My first reaction is ambiguous.

On the one hand, I’ve been an enthusiastic Foursquare participant–I’ve checked in 568 times in the year or so since I read about 4sq in the NYT, I’ve got 17 badges, etc. It’s a way for friends to know where I am. On the other hand, I can’t help but feel like FB thinks all information is public information, and the more we broadcast the better, and that’s made me nervous. I used to let friends of friends see my updates, until people I did not know starting disagreeing with political comments I made. FB is a difficult place to have political discussion, and when it’s with people who don’t know me, it’s easy to get nasty quickly, which is not why I go to FB. I go to see what’s up with my friends.

But I’ve done some reading on both sides of the FB Places issue tonight–starting here at the WSJ and here on Salon.com, which led me here, here and here–which took me from Not Gonna Use It to Will Only Let Vicki See Where I Am to Will Use on a Trial Basis. The idea of knowing where my friends are could be pretty fun, but I don’t want random people knowing where I am, so I’ll not let FB include me in Who’s Here Now–not when strangers will be able to see my name and picture.

This was my response to Google Buzz, too–initial rejection, followed by willingness to try. But that soon led back to rejection–once I read some of the crude stuff people near me were writing, the thrill was quickly gone, and let’s face it, there’s no there there now. I don’t know if FB Places will meet the same fate, but I doubt it. People use Google for search and email, but FB is how we connect to our friends. And now we’ve got a new way to connect. I’ll let you know how it works for me.

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