Today’s Obsession: Facebook Places

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You may have heard that Facebook is now offering a service called “places,” a direct competitor for both Foursquare and Gowalla (the two most popular location-based games). The service itself is kind of me-too, leaving me uninterested, but what I was interested in was the permissions Facebook automatically set—versus their last permissions fiasco. It looks like they’re learning to design their experiences for a less shocking end result.

First off, only your friends can see that you’ve checked in somewhere unless you’ve specifically set the options for exposing yourself to “everyone” in your permissions. Secondly, your permissions aren’t automatically set to enable letting your friends tag you in various locations, as happened last time they went through this nonsense. This time, you’re alerted the first time some tool checks you into a sleazy bar (or whatever) and then asked if you want to allow it that time and going forward.

And, as always, I recommend you check into your Facebook privacy settings by clicking “account,” pulling down to “privacy settings,” then clicking “customize settings.” At the bottom of “things you share,” you’ll see two options for sharing of locations. At the bottom of the next pane, “things others share,” you’ll see “friends can check me into places.” Set those as you like, and don’t try to check me in anywhere.