As many of you probably know Facebook has released a new feature called ‘Places‘. The feature is intended to compete with other ‘check-in’ types of services like foursquare, where you basically announce to the world, via your mobile device, ‘I am at such and such location’. As sites like pleaserobme.com make evident, announcing to the world that you are not home may not be the safest thing to do in the world. Facebook has taken it one step further, though, with Places; now you can announce to the world “I’m at such and such location WITH so and so”…even without so and so’s knowledge!
By default, your Facebook settings allow your Facebook friends to check you in somewhere. They do not need your approval to do so, but you are notified (thanks….). If you want to disable this ability and try to use the privacy settings to take back some control over this feature, follow the steps outlined below:
1) From your home page, click on ‘Account >> Privacy Settings’ on the top right of your screen:
The first thing you might notice is a comment from Facebook that reads:
"There is a false rumor that Facebook shares your location without your knowledge or consent. You control your information on Facebook. With Places, you choose when to share your location by checking in or allowing friends to check you in. Your location is never given to anyone automatically."
Technically that is true; Facebook does NOT share your location without your consent. But what they don’t tell you is that OTHER people can. Always the fine print…
2) From the Privacy screen, click on Customize settings near the bottom:
3) On this screen you will see several areas: Things I Share, Things others share, and Contact Information. Under the ‘Things I share’ section, locate ‘Places I check in to’ and click on the Drop Down menu to the right of it and choose ‘custom’:
4) At the top of the pop up window that appears you will see ‘Make this visible to’. Click the drop down menu next to ‘These people:’ and choose WHO should be able to see where you checked in. In my case, I chose ‘Only Me’, so that effectively disables anyone from seeing where I have checked in. This is kind of a safety measure since I don’t intend to check in anywhere:
5) Once you have saved this and the pop up window disappears, find the ‘Things others share’ section of the page. Locate ‘Friends can check me in to Places’ and click the Edit Settings button to the right of it:
6) In the pop up window that appears click on the only Drop Down menu on the window and choose ‘Disabled’ and then ‘Okay’:
And there you go! You have disabled Facebook Places and reclaimed a tiny portion of your privacy.
What do you think about Facebook Places? Are you using it? Does it concern you at all? Did you know that your friends could check you in without your consent?