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Although the announcement has yet to take place, the word is out: Facebook is officially in the geo-location scramble. As noted by TechCrunch, Facebook Places is Facebook’s latest feature. It asks users if they would like to use their current location as an innocent way of asking if they want to “check in” in Foursquare terms. You can then find where your friends are and where they’ve been.
Foursquare and Gowalla were undoubtedly expecting this new competitor and with a huge userbase, Facebook is no doubt a legitimate threat to dominate the geo-location war. However, as Google’s latitude shows, it still takes time to build a following and embraced by users.
My prediction is that Facebook places will be rejected by the majority of Facebook users, but with hundreds of millions of users, even a tiny percentage of Facebook users accepting the service means it will become the main rival to Foursquare. Expect Foursquare and Facebook to become the leaders in the coming months.
Average Facebook users will now also have to learn the language of geo-location. Essentially geo-location allows you to tell people where you are. Think of it as a walking GPS. The benefits are that you can find friends, locate interesting businesses and restaurants nearby and keep a record of where you’ve been. Think of it as a walking diary. Privacy concerns are of course the first complaint most users have. However, services such as Foursquare and GoWalla allow you to share where you are with friends or keep track of where you have been without notifying anyone at all. As always, it is important to choose your privacy settings because the default setting will undoubtedly be open.