Facebook Places Raises Security Concerns of Some Experts

Facebook is making it easier for you to let your friends know where you are.  On the heels of the popular smartphone application “Foursquare”, Facebook has developed Facebook Places to allow users of the popular social networking site to “check-in” when they go somewhere.  A current Pew Internet & American Life Project survey found that as of this spring only about 5% of the population used applications like Foursquare.  With Facebook entering the market, that number is bound to increase significantly. 

There has been growing concern in the past several months that Facebook is allowing your personal information to be accessed by too many people.  The company has stated that users have the ability to set their privacy settings as they see fit, however many have complained that the system is confusing, and there are too many options.  Allowing Facebook Places and other similar applications to detail your whereabouts has raised concerns among privacy experts everywhere.

Facebook places allows you to alert friends and strangers, depending on your settings, when you are in an exact location.  If you allow it, the program will send an alert to anyone checked into a location that you are also checking into.  You can of course change your settings so that only your “friends” can see the update.  Additionally, you can choose to allow only certain members of your friends list to see the update by changing your privacy settings.

Privacy experts say that the programs are not inherently harmful, but users should be careful about sharing their exact location with strangers.  They warn that you could be at risk for geo-targeted advertisements, profiling, and naturally physical danger by letting strangers know where you are at all times.  It should be noted that the program does not automatically check users in; you have to check into a location manually.

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