Facebook has again shown a total lack of respect for it’s users.
Facebook Places has a very big potential to be a big embarrassment to nearly anyone.
What is Facebook Places and how could it be bad?
This new Facebook feature has a huge potential for abuse. If you have a Facebook account, you already risk potential embarrassment, or something even worse that could be painful to you. I have also posted a YouTube video with clear instructions on disabling Facebook Places.
Facebook places allows you to “check in” to places you visit. For example, you check in to a local cafe as you stop for your evening triple espresso latte. Your friend happens to drive by and notices that you are there and decides to stop in and join you. No big deal, right? Well, other than the fact you just told the world you are not at home and your expensive rare set of diamond tipped tiddly winks are unguarded. At least that was your decision tell the world and there is no problem with it. There are several other internet services like Foursquare that already do the same.
[mc src=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7POVTL6pDo” type=”youtube”]How To Disable Facebook Places and Why You Should[/mc]
Well, Facebook apparently didn’t think that was social enough so they added something to the mix and don’t forget, when Facebook introduces something new, they automatically assume that everyone is going to think it’s cool. If you have a Facebook account, this is already activated on your account.
With Facebook Places, your “friends” can sign you into locations.
Now, remember, a Facebook friend may not be someone you actually know real well and agree with on everything. I’ve met people (and have them as friends on Facebook) that have thousands of Facebook friends and I doubt that they have any idea what a good portion of those people are really like. After all, many use Facebook as a means to expand socially, that’s why it’s called a social network. You can’t be very social without meeting new friends.
So assume one of these friends decides to check you into someplace you would never go.
Use your imagination. Maybe that hotel on the seedy side of town. Maybe that “bookstore” on the side of the highway. I think it’s only a matter of time before we see a whole lot of politicians getting checked into places they would rather not be caught at this time of year (even though some of them do go to places like that). The trouble is, no one will be able to tell who is telling the truth when they say “It wasn’t me.”
It doesn’t even need to be that bad to cause a problem. What if you are home sick from work and your friend decides to check you in for your triple espresso latte and your boss notices this on your Facebook page. Maybe you won’t get the chance to explain. Maybe next time all your personal items from your desk are waiting for you at the entrance to work.
But wait! There’s more. It gets worse!
Yes, my friends, Facebook does not stop even there. See, Facebook makes money selling all the information you’ve been giving them. You know that annoying game your friends all play but you refuse to? Well, Facebook applications (like games and other things) can get access to all that information too even if it is just your friends that use it and not you. Let me say that again. Applications that your friends use can can get information about you even though you do not use them.
Let’s use an example that is not too far out of reality. Fact, the City of New York is keeping a close watch on diabetics. They have to register with certain government agencies and other things which really go against the freedom that most Americans think they have. Now, imagine if the agencies involved decide to get the Facebook Places data on diabetics in New York. What is going to happen to a diabetic that happens to check in at a donut shop? What if some “friend” checks them in? Not anything good.
So, even if you are just checking in and think you are sharing that information with valued friends, some complete stranger can access to all the data about when and where you check in. Simply because your friend plays a game or uses some Facebook app. Kinda creepy if you think about it and you don’t have to think hard. Don’t think that there aren’t going to be interested parties. I can think of three or four different ways this information could be used even if you are just checking in to things like shopping and restaurants – and not to your benefit.
Let me repeat a few things again. Facebook is selling this information. They tell you they are. Facebook automatically has set your account to give this information. Any of your friends can sign you into a place.
Do you feel safer now?
My suggestion is to disable Facebook Places.
You will need to go to your account privacy settings and change it. Then you will need to click on the “Applications and Websites” link at the bottom of the privacy setting page and fix that so your friend’s applications do not use it. I’ve made the video so it is easier to follow.