Facebook Places? What were we thinking?

Check in to your location via the Facebook Places app

When Sarah mentioned the location-based social networking Foursquare in our last lecture, I had the same thought as Dijana in her last post: can Facebook get any creepier?

No surprise that Facebook developers have boarded the location train and launched Facebook Places, far behind Foursquare and Gowalla. Google had bought it’s own version called Dodgeball back in 2005, and continued with Google Latitude from 2009, so why not combine that with Facebook? Or even better, combine Foursquare with Facebook?

From Dijana’s post, I was directed to the article titled “Will Facebook’s new location feature make poor people feel bad?” (because poor people can not go to posh restaurants to show off their location), but skipped most of the actual article and went straight to the comments to read a range of responses. This one struck me the most:

Someday we are all going to look back on the Facebook phenomenon and scratch our heads and wonder, “What were we thinking?”
‘s comment on Facebook Places on Read Write Web

At first, I thought Foursquare was a service where you indicate your whereabouts by clicking a spot on a map, but it’s more than that. People “check in” to a “place when they’re there, tell friends where they are and track the history of where they’ve been and who they’ve been there with.”

Let’s imagine that in a different scenario:

But that’s not the image Facebook wants you to see. According to them, you’re preparing a rosy scrapbook of great parties, past pleasures, and favourite haunts:

Assuming Facebook and I are still around 20-30 years later as the optimistic man in the video says, I will have a load of digital files on what I’ve done with who and when. I will go through these the same way high school girls will go through the thousands of pictures where they did those fish-lips poses.

To summarise, here are four issues with these social “passports” that may have us wondering “What were we thinking?:

Going to Brad's Party in NY xxoo

  1. More screen time: Another reason for people to keep their eyes peeled on their phones or computers instead of on people.

  2. Inflates the narcissitic side of people: Just another inventive way to show off where you have been or gain attention even if you just grabbed fries from McDonalds.

  3. Waste of time: just like many Facebook status updates or Tweets.
  4. Privacy and security concerns: Besides the stalking, I’m more concerned about teens bullying each other. However, as much as people lament the loss of privacy, it’s up to the individual to maintain that privacy.

Would you be interested in signing up for this?

UPDATE: For those whose lives aren’t as focused on the outside world, there is Get Glue, Miso, and Philo that allows you to check in the books you’re reading, the shows you’re watching, and the music you’re listening to. CNN has more on this. This deserves a future post.

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4 Responses to Facebook Places? What were we thinking?

  1. Hi Esmayu,

    It’s definitely not something that I’d be interested in – but then I’m the person who logs onto Facebook about 3 times a month! I just don’t really see the point of something like this Facebook places. I mean, the way they’re selling it, I guess it’s supposed to be the new kind of photo album or something, like a record of where you’ve been and what you’ve done over the years, which I guess some people would find useful. But it’s just not something that I think I’d be into (I’m not much of a photo person anyway though, so maybe I’m not the right audience/target market for it).

    I agree with your points about it, especially regarding the increased screen time it will engender, as well as the whole narcissistic aspect of it (this is probably the thing that I find most distasteful about the whole social networking phenomenon). There’s nothing more annoying the being out with people at dinner or whatever, and they spend half the time on their phone. You can’t even have good arguments these days, because people with iPhones just look up the answer to everything within seconds!

    I found it a bit weird when the first guy in the video was saying they’ve never before provided us with a way to learn where our friends like to hang out. Surely if the people in question really are your friends, you actually do know where they like to hang out, because presumably you hang out with them…that’s what friends do right?? If you don’t know where your friends like to hang out, maybe they’re not really friends…I just found his comment a bit odd in this context, and this way of trying to ‘sell’ the idea kind of redundant. But maybe it’s just me! 🙂

    • devinegirrl says:

      What I want to know is, how can you set-up a “serendipitous meeting” by receiving a notification from Facebook? Hardly an accidental or fortuitous happenchance! Do those marketeers really believe their own spin? This seems like a creepy form of stalking to me. Of course, you don’t have to subscribe to that feature; as with a lot of social media, you can take it or leave it.

      Interestingly, my son uses Facebook like I use a telephone. On Saturday mornings he logs on, checks out who else is on, has that eight-way chat and they all arrange to meet at someone’s house or somewhere local. Cheaper than twenty-odd telephone calls, so I’m happy with that.

      • esmayu says:

        Cheaper than phone calls? I dunno Rachel… Back in the no Internet days, there were no Internet bills.

        I guess “chance” encounters through Facebook places will only occur if you are in closep proximity with another person, or if you can announce several hours beforehand where you are going to be.

  2. esmayu says:

    They have to pitch it like’s it a new idea. And as true as your argument of “friends know friends” is, it can never be as accurate and immediate as knowing exactly where they are.

    I just find it odd that they use words like “check in” and “passports”. Reminds me of airport security.

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