Facebook’s new Places feature brings location-based social networking to its users, which means you can “check in” at the stores, restaurants, clubs, and other places you visit. It also means your friends can see when you’re near by, and it also means you have a whole new set of Facebook privacy settings to check out.
Along with seeing where you are, your friends can check you in at locations for you, potentially revealing your current location to far more people than you would like — including people you don’t know. Facebook includes new settings for controlling your Places visibility, and they’re worth checking out even if you don’t plan on using the feature yourself.
To view and edit your places settings login to your Facebook account in your favorite Web browser and go to
Accounts > Privacy Settings, then choose
Customize settings. You’ll find new options in the
Things I share and
Things other share sections.
Things I share
Places I check in is set to
Friends Only by default. Leaving this setting alone means only your Facebook friends will see the locations you check in at, but the “People Here Now” feature can override your preferences and potentially show strangers your location, too. I set my privacy level to
Only Me because I typically don’t use location-based social services. You’ll have to choose
Custom from the
Places I check in pop-up menu to see the
Only Me option.
Limiting Places info to only you is a Custom option
Include me in “People Here Now” after I check in can override your
Places I check in settings by showing other people that are checked in at the same location they are. Since this feature lists everyone that’s at the same location, you could be exposing your name to people that didn’t intend to. This feature is on by default, so be sure to uncheck the
Enable option if you don’t want your name showing up in a Facebook list at the places you hang out.
Things others share
By default, your friends can check you in at locations without your permission. If you would prefer to keep other people from tagging you at locations without your knowledge, choose
Disabled from the
Friends can check me in to Places pop-up menu.
You can block friends from checking you in on Places
If you were tagged at a location by a friend and don’t want to be, you can untag yourself in the same way you untag yourself from photos. If someone tags your home as a location they’re at and you would prefer to keep where you live private, that takes a bit more effort.
Assuming someone checked in at your home, you’ll have to flag the location with a request for Facebook to remove it. Until it’s removed, your address will be available for at least your friends, and possibly your friend’s friends to see. Assuming enough people check in at your house, the location could be available for all to see.
Places on your iPhone
Facebook also updated the iPhone Facebook app with Places support. By default, Places Push notifications are turned on so you’ll get an alert when your friends are checked in at the same place as you.
If Places iPhone Push notifications aren’t your thing, you can disable them like this:
Places tags and friend Push settings are on by default
Places is a brand for Facebook, so expect to see refinements and changes as the feature evolves, along with more privacy settings to manage.