Facebook UK has pushed out its version of Places, the location tagging service that was switched on in the US last month and in Japan earlier this week. The social networking site now allows UK users to “check in” with their cellphones, optionally showing up in a “People Here Now” section for their current location. After facing legions of privacy advocates before, Facebook UK are also coming out the gate with plenty of arguments as to why users of the site shouldn’t be worried.
That includes more granular control over who can see your position and what location data is stored, extra privacy for minors and – most importantly, perhaps – whether or not your friends can check you in. More details on those privacy controls below. Facebook Places for UK users has begun rolling out this morning, and will spread to all members over the next few days.
New controls and reporting – You’ll be able to control who can see your check-ins, whether or not friends can check you in, whether you show up in “here now,” whether to share check-ins with apps, and the ability to remove any check-in or tag. You’ll also be able to report any place.
Defaulting ‘check-ins’ to ‘Friends’ only – This means that that when you check-in somewhere, only your Friends can see the associated story. For other people who are also checked-in to your location, your name MAY appear under ‘Here Now’ section on that location’s Facebook Page. We think seeing the people checked-in to a location is consistent with the experience of seeing the people there in real life. However, all of these stories can be immediately removed and THE HERE NOW feature can be turned off from your privacy settings.
Built in abuse protection – You’ll never be able to tag someone who’s not a friend, and no one whom you’ve blocked will ever be able to tag you. (Note that this exactly how tagging already works today – friends can already tag each other in photos and in statuses.) You’re also notified when you’ve been tagged, so YOU can always remove the tag. Someone will have to also check-in to any place where they tag you and we limit the number of places where you can check-in over a period of time.
If you haven’t started using the product, you won’t get checked-in at a given place if you’re tagged. We hold the check-in for you until you’ve either used Places yourself in other words, checked-in and agreed to the disclosure or you’ve allowed friends to check you in.
Special provisions for minors – ‘Only Friends’ will ever see when a minor checks in, anywhere. That means that even if the minor chooses to change their Places I ‘check-in’ setting to ‘Everyone,’ their check-ins will still only be visible to Friends. We’re taking this even further, to applying to all posts when a minor is tagged. In updates that involve minors, the minor’s name will only show to the minor’s friends. We’re restricting who can see minors in the ‘Here Now’ section on the place’s Page. Minors will only ever show up to their Friends – not to anyone else who is also checked in there.