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:
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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
- You may want to wait until you are leaving a venue before checking in, especially if you are there with your kids.
- I recommend that you NEVER list your home in Facebook Places.
- 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.