Home Facebook Wants to Be Your One True Location

Facebook Wants to Be Your One True Location

Facebook’s goal for its new Places feature may be even more ambitious than we realized. Facebook wants to be the central platform for location data across all Web services, a company spokesman said today at a New York Times developer conference.

The statement reinforces the image of a world where the majority of the population is catalogued in Facebook’s growing database. The long-term vision for Facebook Places is starting to take shape: Facebook wants to dominate the location-based Web.

Facebook demonstrated that it wants your profile to be your identity on the Internet with Facebook Connect (see Facebook Wants to Be Your One True Login). Basically, it now wants you to add location to that identity.

Covering the basics

Places is restricted to basic location-confirmed check-ins – who is where, when – shunning mayorships and badges and leaving any sort of advertising up to third-party developers. This minimalist functionality leaves out some of the fun out of checking in, but it makes sense if Facebook’s plan is simply to place its 500 million users on a dynamic map.

And Facebook hopes that soon, any app developer who comes up with a new location-based service will turn first to Facebook’s massive trove of data.

Early projections

The full manifestation of Facebook Places is still five to ten years out. The feature is available to all users in the U.S., but not everyone is using it.

For one thing, Places requires users to check in from a GPS-enabled device, but less than a third of Americans have smartphones, according to Nielson. That’s changing rapidly – Nielson estimates that half of Americans will own a smartphone by the end of 2011.

Trusting Facebook with location data

And all this is contingent on people sharing their location information with Facebook, of course. That’s no guarantee given the company’s history of privacy slip-ups (see The Facebook Privacy Debate: What You Need to Know). But whether people use the service will depend on how much utility they get from it, as it did when Facebook introduced the News Feed feature. Users initially rejected the change, it now drives much of the activity on the site because it’s useful and fun.

Users, developers and advertisers should all be excited for the possibilites for location-based services, from social shopping and rewards programs to real-time travel guides. The question is whether Facebook can persuade its users to trust it with their location data. Users might prefer to give their location data directly to individual applications, or another company might rise up to collect this data.

What do you think? Are you ready to trust Facebook to handle your real-time location for the apps of the future?

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.