Safety and Facebook Places for Direct Sellers

Last night I updated Facebook on my Android-based mobile phone.  Now I have the “Places” app featured prominently on the main screen of the Facebook application.  Curious, I clicked it, and began to look at the updates from people on my Friends list.  I saw people checking in from home, work, restaurants, etc.  For every person that checked in, Places told me how far they were from my current location, and included a Google map of their exact location.

And I have to tell you, it made me extremely uncomfortable.  Honestly, it’s like stalker central.

When geo-location apps like FourSquare first came out, I hesitated to use them.  However I could control who I allowed to see my checkins, and I limited it to people I knew in real life, and who I was comfortable with having that type of information.  But think about this…Facebook Places can be for EVERYONE you’re friends with on Facebook.  Given the fact that Facebook extends our circle way beyond who we normally interact with, this may be cause for concern.

Add to this the fact that you’re most likely connecting with customers and prospects, and the direct seller needs to be even more cautious about using an application like Facebook Places.  I for one would NEVER list my home in Facebook Places.  That just seems like an opening for trouble.  And if someone really wanted to find you, they could pose as a prospect, and find out how far away you are from them every time you check in, right from their phone.

Now I’m not saying you should never use Facebook Places.  I just think that people need to think seriously about the implications before diving in.  Here are a few tips:

Privacy Settings

  1. Go to Account/Privacy Settings and then click the Customize Settings link.  There are a couple of settings you need to be aware of here.  In the “Things I Share” section, near the bottom, decide who should see “Places I Check Into.”  Right now I have this set to “Only Me.”
  2. Right below that is a box that reads “Include me in “People Here Now” after I check in.”  I recommend un-checking the box that reads “Enable.”
  3. Facebook Places also allows your friends to check you in, which may also not be something you want.  Scroll down to the next section, “Things others share”.  There’s a section that reads “Friends can check me into Places.”  Click the “Edit Settings” button, and be sure this is set to “Disabled.”

Using the Application

  1. You may want to wait until you are leaving a venue before checking in, especially if you are there with your kids.
  2. I recommend that you NEVER list your home in Facebook Places.
  3. Never list the home of a customer in Facebook Places.  For example, if you’re at a party, it’s inappropriate to check in on Facebook Places when you arrive.

Now if you’re at a conference or other large event or venue, it might be fun to check in and see who else you know is there.  Your company’s national convention is a good example.  But always think twice before using this application.  Once this information is out there, it’s out there, and I want you to stay safe.

Have you used Facebook Places?  Do you like it?  Would love to hear why you have or haven’t chosen to use this feature, and what your thoughts are on it, in the comments below.

11 Responses to Safety and Facebook Places for Direct Sellers
  1. Tom Doiron
    November 5, 2010 | 7:51 pm

    Hi Jennifer,
    I am with Pat Z. Aside from your suggestuion to be of help to a storefront business, this app seems of more benefit for the predator than the subscriber.

    As uusual, you are spot on with this information, Jennifer. Thanks very much. I am going to review my settles per your suggestions.

    Wishing You Plenty To Live.
    Tom Doiron

  2. Trish
    November 5, 2010 | 2:58 pm

    I’ve never used Facebook places. I’m not on Foursquare.
    I worry not only about telling someone where I am right now, but also about making it possible for someone to establish patterns in my routine. If someone really intends to harm me a family member or even break into my home, they will generally try to get an idea of what patterns are in my routine, why give another way to do this?

    • Jennifer Fong
      November 5, 2010 | 4:05 pm

      Very good point Trish!

  3. Jill Pfefer
    November 5, 2010 | 12:52 pm

    Thanks Jennifer for this really important information!

  4. Pat Zahn
    November 5, 2010 | 11:50 am

    I seriously don’t get the facebook places thing…yes, it might be fun to find someone at convention, but why else do you need to have people know where you are right this minute. What I really don’t like is the fact that others can check you in – that is way too intrusive. If someone is using this effectively I’d like to know how/why?

    • Jennifer Fong
      November 5, 2010 | 4:13 pm

      I’ll let you know for sure if I hear of them. I see the brick and mortar benefits…I just haven’t seen the direct sales benefits yet.

  5. Jennifer Wassenaar
    November 5, 2010 | 11:45 am

    Jen, thanks for this article. I have not used this application and will not, as I think it gives too much information as to my whereabouts. I don’t want to advertise where my home is and I don’t want to advertise when I am not there.

    My background is in education and we learned about how information shared in social networking, when in the wrong hands, can be very dangerous. I compare Facebook to a billboard on the highway on steroids. If I woudn’t put it on a billboard, I try not to put it on Facebook.

    I also find that Places posts in my news feed only clutters it, and it’s kind of annoying.

    I am going to share your article on Facebook, as I think this is an important message that everyone needs to hear, even if they are not in direct sales.

    • Jennifer Fong
      November 5, 2010 | 11:48 am

      Thanks for your comments, and for sharing Jennifer. I think you’re right, we have to remember how far this information goes. Better safe than sorry!

  6. Angela Chrysler
    November 5, 2010 | 11:19 am

    Excellent information we will pass this onto our Facebook Friends. I totally agree and will not be sharing all my info in places either.

    • Jennifer Fong
      November 5, 2010 | 11:48 am

      Thanks for passing this along Angela! It’s so important to think first in order to stay safe!

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