Six social implications of Facebook Places

As you know, Facebook Places allows smartphone users to "check in" at locations and have that location posted as a status update in Facebook for friends and associates to see. And, unless you disable this "feature," your friends can check you in to locations.

Some snippets of conversations in the near-future:

Erstwhile friend: "Why didn't you ask me to go club-hopping with you last night? I'm not in your posse anymore?"

Prosecutor: "The subpeona of your Facebook records clearly shows that you're a known associate of Vinnie 'Big Guy' Vecchione."

Boss: "I guess you weren't too 'sick' to check into the ballpark for yesterday's afternoon game."

Husband to wife: "Yes, dear, I did check into Victoria's Secret downtown -- to buy something for you. It was going to be a surprise...."

Personal trainer: "You went to that greasy fast-food joint? I quit!"

"I wasn't really at the bar -- my friends checked me in there as a joke! I swear!"

Yes, I know the answer is simply to disable the feature or just not use it when you want to keep your location a secret. Considering all the constituencies you have on Facebook -- bosses, work colleagues, clergy, business contacts, family, friends and pseudo-friends -- you'll have to think VERY carefully about which locations you reveal. A location that makes perfect sense to your closest friends might not look so good to others.

Some "friends" will feel left out. The well-meaning trip downtown to buy the wife a surprise gift will get trickier, as will "playing hooky" and the "little white lies" of social life. Law enforcement will have a field day with this location info (on top of cell phone records). And the prospect of friends being able to check you in to locations -- accurately or inaccurately -- is an especially chilling thought (obviously, I suggest turning off that capability).

You now have the ability not only to tell people too much about your life, but also where you're doing it.

I foresee quite a few embarrasing moments ahead. How about you?


Update: Sharon Gaudin covered this topic in a news story: "Facebook Places too much information? Here's how to opt out"

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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