Facebook announced today the launch of their Places feature in Canada, which allows users to advertise where on earth they are at any given moment using their smarthphone.
Facebook advertises Places as a way to share places of interest with friends and to meet new friends who are frequently at the same locations you are. They say it’s an easy way to get your friends to an event on the fly and to drop by when someone is nearby.
Places has been available in the U.S. since August.
Thankfully, it looks like recent privacy issues have made Facebook rethink what the average person would consider a reasonable privacy level. Unlike the rollout of the Places feature a month ago which by default allowed you to be tagged and required the user to put in effort to turn change it, this feature is by default off, and requires a user to turn it on — you know, the way a major website that gives away personal information should work.
Much like Foursquare, users have to hit a “check in” button on their smartphone to record their presence at a location, which then appears on your newsfeed along with other newsfeeds which have permission. There are no “points” or “badges” like Foursquare has, but with the speed at which Facebook applications are being generated, I’m sure games or apps using info generated from Places won’t be far off. It would make sense that Facebook would try to make a run on Foursquare’s growing market share to continue their dominance of the social networking world, and if they can emulate the functionality of Foursquare it could make it irrelevant.
Facebook Places requires a smartphone with geolocation running HTML 5 and the latest version of the Facebook app.