Watch out, Facebook users: the social network debuted a new location-sharing feature on Wednesday. As usual, this means it's time to make sure your privacy settings are configured the way you want them to be.
Here's how you can maintain control over Facebook Places by adjusting your privacy settings.
What is Places?
Places is a new location-sharing feature in Facebook allows you to broadcast your specific location to other Facebook users. You can share your location with all Facebook users, just your friends, friends of friends, or only the people you specify. You can also use Places to check in your Facebook friends if their privacy settings allow it.
To use Places, you need the Facebook application for iPhone or you can visit touch.facebook.com from your mobile browser. To use the Web version, your handset must support HTML5 and geolocation. Places is available only to users in the US.
Getting started with Places privacy
The first thing you need to do is log into Facebook and from the upper right hand corner of your home page select "Account>Privacy Settings." On the privacy settings page click on "Customise settings" under the heading "Sharing on Facebook." This will take you to the section where you can customise your Places settings.
Who Sees Your Check In?
The first setting you have to adjust is called "Places I Check In," and will determine who can see your Facebook check-ins. You will find this setting under the section entitled "Things I Share."
There are three typical settings for "Places I Check In." You can set your check-ins to "Everyone" (all Facebook users will see every check-in), "Friends of Friends" (your Facebook friends and their friends will see your check-ins) and "Friends Only" (just your Facebook friends will see your check-in).
If you need more granular control over your check-in settings select "Customise" at the bottom of the drop down menu. This will open up a pop-up window where you can set your check-ins to be viewable only by you or by specific friends in your friends list. You can also exclude specific people by entering names in the "Hide This From" section (a handy setting if you want to exclude co-workers, parents, or others from seeing your check-ins). After you've customised your settings the way you like, click on "Save Setting."
Directly underneath your setting for "Places I Check In" is a checkbox for a feature called "People Here Now." This setting tells you what other Facebook users are at the same location you are.
You don't need to be someone's Facebook friend to see this information because it is automatically viewable by everyone.
If you don't want the world knowing when you check in to some location (or when a friend checks you in -- more on that in a minute) using Places, then you'll want to make sure this checkbox remains unchecked.