Facebook, the Internet’s most popular web site, announced today its new Places feature that will allow its users to check-in to their favorite restaurants, stores, and workplaces with their mobile devices. In addition to checking-in, users will also be able to post a short update about what they’re doing and tag and check-in the friends who are with them.
Facebook says, “When your friends check you in, it is as if you have checked in at that place yourself. You also will appear checked-in to your friends. If you do not allow friends to check you in, then when they tag you at a place, your name will appear in the same way it appears in a tagged status update. You will not appear checked-in at that place.”
As always, security and control are an issue with this new feature, but at first glance, it seems as though Facebook has thought this through thoroughly enough. Users may opt-out of allowing friends to check them in, untag themselves from check-ins, and choose who sees those check-ins.
Facebook mentioned in passing that users will also be able to integrate Places with third-party applications, but the blog post did not mention what sites (I’m thinking primarily Foursquare and Gowalla, but Twitter has a geotagging option now, too) or how much functionality would be shared amongst them.
My thoughts? Once again, Facebook seems to be riding the bandwagon of what’s trending in social media. Last year, it was the introduction of the Twitter-like newsfeed, and this summer it’s connecting based on location. On one hand, there’s plenty of room for competition in this sector, so I don’t blame Facebook for wanting its slice of the pie. On the other hand, it’s been a while since Facebook has done anything truly original, and I find it tiresome watching an Internet giant ride the coattails of everyone else.