Facebook Places: A Good or a Bad Thing?

There are two sides to every argument, or so the old adage goes. There is a great deal of truth to that, and before you decide you opinion on anything, it is always smart to hear both of those sides. When Facebook is such a giant part of all of our lives these days, it is no wonder that there are many, many arguments that swirl around the social media site.

One of those current arguments has to do with one of the most new parts of the site. This is Facebook Places. The little application seems fun and amusing, but as protestors have pointed out, it has the potential to cause a great deal of problems. Let us explore both sides of the Facebook Places argument and then you can decide about it for yourself.

The Good

Facebook Places is a new part of the social media site that allows you to “check in” when you arrive somewhere, be it works, home, the grocery store, the movie theater, or wherever you happen to be. This can be a fun way of letting your friends know what you are up to. This type of location sharing has long been a part of other social sites like Foursquare, so it is no wonder that Facebook has gotten involved in it too.
If you are smart with your privacy information, you can make sure that only your friends can see where you are checking in, and you can even check your friends in through tags if you are with them. This is such a fun way of letting everyone be envious that you are eating out at your favorite steakhouse or buying the latest fashions at the mall.

The Bad

As with most everything else, the downside of Facebook Places is that it tells everyone where you are at and when. Unless you are absolutely sure of your privacy settings and absolutely sure that your friends are all trustworthy, you could run into some problems. Do you really want everyone to know when you are not at home? What happens if your angry ex finds out you are at a restaurant near them and they wish to have a conversation with you?

The best news is that you can disable Facebook Places if you do not want to have any part of it.

How To Disable Facebook Places:

Log in to Facebook. From your Account menu, choose Privacy Settings. You’ll get something like the picture below. Click the Customize option (if it isn’t already selected) and then click the “Customize settings” link (it’s the one next to the pencil below the table depicting your current privacy settings).

How to Disable Facebook Places

2) Under the “Things I Share” heading, all the way at the bottom (of that section), there are two things you may want to change. By default “Places I check in” should be set to only be visible by your friends. If you want to limit it more or less, use the drop down menu to do so. I set mine to “Only Me,” which is as private as you’re going to get. Below that option is “Include me in ‘People Here Now’ after I check in.” It is enabled by default. This will let people know you’re at a particular location via the location’s page or in a search for people near you. Uncheck “Enable” if you don’t want this.

How to Disable Facebook Places

3) Lastly—and this is the important one—if you don’t want your friends to check you into Places, sharing your current location with a bunch of people you may or may not know, go down to the section called “Things Others Share” and find “Friends can check me in to Places.” Initially, mine wasn’t set to anything at all so the default option could be either choice. Regardless, set this to “Disabled” if you don’t want your friends checking you in. Keep in mind that any friend could potentially check you in anywhere. You don’t actually have to be there. If you don’t want anyone playing a practical joke and checking you in to a strip club, for example, this is a good thing to turn off.

How to Disable Facebook Places

Your location can be shared with friends’ applications as well. To turn that off, you have to go to a completely different section. Click the “Applications and Websites” link (pictured to the left) and then go to the “Info accessible through your friends” section. Click “Edit Settings” and you’ll see a bunch of boxes. Anything checked is available to Facebook apps that your friends are using. The last checkbox in this section is “Places I’ve visited,” so uncheck that if you don’t want your friends’ apps grabbing your location information as well.

It is up to you whether or not you think it is innocent and fun or dangerous. Once you decide, you can start using it or disable it on your account.

[Disabling FB Places SOURCE: LifeHacker]