back to article Facebook Places - why, and why not

Facebook has added a My Location button, initially just to the iPhone client. But why would you want everyone to know where you are, and how can you prevent that happening? Facebook now wants to know where you are, or at least where you'd like people to think you are, and expects your friends to shop you if you don't bother …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Ah well

    Reason #1,022,134 why I will never be on facebook.

    Mine's the one with 'Please be my facebook friend' on the badge.

    1. Benedict


      Reason #1 is because you have no friends

      1. Dino

        Not his fault really

        What can you do, I didn't alienate everyone by being on facebook. everyone alienated me by them 'effing off to facebook. Can we come up with a new site/method/whatever for the rest of us that don't want to share everything/kitchen sink/colour of underwear ??

        Beer cause it's almost Friday ... and it's only 6 days since last Friday!

        1. Anonymous Coward

          You can use fb without all the shite...

          I use it purely to keep in touch with people I don't see very often/any more.

          I've installed nothing, signed up for nothing, turned privacy up to max and may headbutt anyone who recommends farmville. I use it for messaging (both email and instant stylee) and sometimes sharing/browsing friends' photos and that's about it. I find it a pretty good unified solution for keeping in touch with old friends.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Same ole crap

            "old friends"

            If you can't see that those people are not Friends, your morality compass is way off.

            A friend is someone who is there for you, who listens to your crap, who cares, who actually takes time to visit you and socialise with you.

            A friend is not "oh I remember them, I wonder how they are doing".

            500 million people who are really screwed up when it comes to morality and common sense.

            500 million people who just don't care or not socially adept to see it.

            FB is not the only medium available to communicate with your "friends".

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Thumb Down

              Re: Same ole crap

              At least "old friends" were actually part of your life once - here you are, sharing your opinion with complete strangers.



            2. Bill B
              Thumb Down

              @same ole crap

              "A friend is someone who is there for you, who listens to your crap, who cares, who actually takes time to visit you and socialise with you."

              So as soon as they move away from the area and go to NZ they stop being your friends?

              Good God you're shallow.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Thumb Down

              Re: Same old crap

              "old friends"

              To give you an example, I left school 10 years ago this year. We decided to try and organise a reunion for this so a mate and I formed a group on facebook and let it self-propagate via word of mouth and recommendations, until we had a list of everyone who was in our year, who we can update, message, share school pics and memories with on the wall... I think that's quite a nice thing to do really. I certainly don't see how it makes me "really screwed up" morally.

              Is there no one who outside of your current social peer group that you are interested in? Past acquaintances, old collegues, ex's, school friends, uni mates? You don't care about any of them? Maybe you should try being less dismissive and judgemental, then maybe people would want to stay in touch with you too.


            The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

            >"I've installed nothing, signed up for nothing, turned privacy up to max "

            Don't worry, Facebbok have adjusted your privacy settings with their new feature - for your convenience.

    2. Jim Kirby
      Big Brother

      Wisdom: you're doing it right.

      Wow, I thought I was the only one who realized that FB users are a bunch of trusting "dumb fucks" long before Zuckerturd was caught actually saying it out loud.

      FB: never have; never will.

      1. Nexox Enigma


        """Wow, I thought I was the only one who realized that FB users are a bunch of trusting "dumb fucks""""

        Yeah once FB became a past time, instead of a place to find someone's phone number, which just about coincided with when the started allowing more than one picture, it became powerfully worthless to me. So I closed (or whatever they let me do, I check back every couple years to see if they'll let me delete it, no luck so far) my account.

        Now I just worry that potential employers / etc will find one of the people with my same name and credit their albums full of binge drinking pictures to me.

    3. Alastair 7


      "How do you spot someone that doesn't watch TV? Don't worry, they'll tell you"

      I swear El Reg commenters spend more time telling everyone they don't use Facebook/Twitter/etc than the average user spends actually using the site.

      Don't use Facebook? Fair enough, your choice. It doesn't mean that everyone who does use it is an idiot.

      1. corrodedmonkee


        I wonder if they belong to the Peoples Front of Opera!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Idiocy is not a foregone conclusion

        It's a matter of probability

  2. CraigRoberts


    I use Facebook - preferring Twitter these days though... Really starting to get annoyed by FB and it's privacy problems...

    Thanks for this El Reg - settings edited and disabled...

    Any news on when they might stop offering up my name and correct email address if you try and log in with a rough approximation?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      "Any news on when they might stop offering up my name and correct email address if you try and log in with a rough approximation?"

      When you disable autocomplete in your BROWSER settings perhaps? Meh.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Thats not what he meant...

        I believe he may have been referring to someone else attempting to log into FB as Joe Blogs, then getting given a screen saying "Is this the Joey Bloggs you are after?"

        Note the subltle spelling difference.. try and log in as someone roughly similarily named, it'll let you choose the actual name to attempt next.

  3. dotdavid


    It's ridiculous that this feature isn't opt-in. Although not inexplicable - I mean, they're going to want *some* users of the service, and forcing users to navigate through Facebook's spaghetti junction of privacy settings to turn it on isn't a good way of encouraging that. A good way of discouraging them from turning it off though.

    Still, is one of Facebook's "wow look at this new feature!" pop-ups which allows you to opt out too much to ask?

    Escape because... well, there is no.

    1. Paul RND*1000
      Big Brother

      Opt in

      Ridiculous, yes. Surprising, not so much. This is classic Facebook behavior after all. Add some "awesome new feature", turn it on by default, and make it a PITA to turn off.

      Extra Big Brother Bonus Points for allowing your "friends" to flag up where you are and making you change a different setting to prevent that. Consider it as training for the next generation of people who are being conditioned to watch and report on the activity of those around them.

      On a related note, when you spend more time playing security settings whack-a-mole than you spend using the site, you have to wonder why bother at all.

  4. Anonymous Coward


    There are currently 10 people at a well known dogging spot.

    Quick, to the swarm!

  5. GavinC

    The first person to be sacked ........

    I look forward to the news reports of people being sacked after phoning in sick to work, only to be tagged down the pub by their mates.....

  6. DP 1
    Paris Hilton


    Facebook Privacy settings management is like weeding the garden - a job that's not so fun but that you have to do every now and again to stop yourself being overrun with things you don't like. I check them every now and again to see what I've been opted into this time and how I can opt out of it.

    This is a useful article, thanks El Reg! I'm not sure a bout the 'People here and now setting though, I can't find it. Must be the Thursday afternoon blondeness striking again....

  7. Nigel Callaghan

    Can it be spoofed?

    This will be greatl when there's an add-on that allows you to set your location to any place on the surface of the planet! Then it becomes simultaneously useful (location shows as home in bed with flu instead of the pub) and useless (people know it can be spoofed so don't believe any of the locations)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      I wonder

      I wonder if it'll let me go to the moon.

      Paris, because she's my 2nd choice of destination.

      *loads wireshark to look for the teleportation API*


      What, like this?

      Fake Geolocation for Firefox (and other Google geolocation clients);

    3. Wize

      Obligitory XKCD post

  8. JDX Gold badge

    re: Sacked...

    And then in America, FB will be sued by idiots who lied and want to pass on the blame. And being America, they'll probably win.

  9. Ian Ferguson

    How to protest this...

    ...I'm going to stand outside the local STD clinic and 'check in' all my friends.

  10. David Evans

    Kind of happens already

    ...if someone tags you in a photo, and the photo is tagged with the location/event. This is just more of the same, and I've no idea if FB has a "don't tag me in photos" function.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      You can remove the tag - and pollute the FB data

      My son discovered his friends had tagged pictures with his name, and FB allows you to "remove" those tags. Doesn't mean that the data has gone, though, the damage has been done.

      I thus advised him to tag loads of other faces with his name - there's no better revenge on unwanted data collection than to devalue that acquisition by polluting it for all it's worth..

      Now, whose face do I want today .. Tadumtidum..

    2. Tom 13

      Tagged in photos is different than the location widget.

      Somebody has to upload the photo, and the time and location for the photo might not be real time. For instance, I recently went to a convention with some friends. Friends took lots of pictures. Friend uploaded pictures, but mostly more than 2 days after the event ended. Getting tagged for being at the convention at that point was sort of irrelevant for finding people there.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Can we create locations?

    If so I'm creating ones called 'deep shit' and 'up the creek without a paddle' - which I'll then check people into as appropriate.

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "a generation to whom Facebook is an integral part of life"

    And will be the first (or last) generation to find that the S"£t they did follows them around *forever*.

    My guess is this will shape up 1 of about 3 ways.

    Wholesale reaction. *Total* loss of *all* privacy. IE can find *anything* about *anyone*. This will be interesting when people discover *exactly* how much that guy they don't like but have been sitting next to for the last 10 years earns *more* than they do for exactly the same job. My personal view is those who want to *know* the most most about everybody are the ones with the *biggest* secrets to hide. What does "Creepy Eric" have in his closet?

    A deep backlash which snuffs out such sites for a *very* long time, either by public disgust at how much of member data has been aggregated/mined/pimped by the site.

    People become a *lot* more cautious about what they post and have *allowed* to be posted by others.

    No need to ask. No need to know.

    In others words f£$k off.

    1. AndyS

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      option 4 - people use a *lot* more *stars* when they type, to make it *really* difficult to read what *they* *wrote*.

      1. Bill B

        The title is *required,* and **must** contain letters and/or digits.

        Depends if you want to use *italics* or just **bold**

        1. Graham Dawson Silver badge


          Better than WRITING like they're in BENEATH a STEEL sky.

  13. Richard Plinston


    I will know who will be out and about and how long I will have to break into their house.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's the non-scary stuff.

    Here's a much scarier idea Facebook picked up from Google: facial recognition. You may not tag yourself, but there is nothing stopping other people tagging you - as a result there may suddenly be 100s of pictures when you search the Net.

    The question is: is it morally OK to then tag a gazillion other faces with your name so it makes a mess of the system?

    As it's the only way you can protect your privacy I'd say "yes"..

  15. heyrick Silver badge

    Friends checking me into places...

    ...try that with me, I'll check them into bloody hospital!

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      And how..

      .. will you know who did it? After all, FB isn't very hot on checking the veracity of the information it gets, which is one way to fight back: pollute it with as much crap as you can come up with. Tag a million different people with different names, for instance, find a way to geo-tag friends at embarrassing places - you name it, it's there for foul play.. :-)

  16. steven W. Scott

    GPS is a bit invasive, but....

    you IP alone already provides enough to pinpoint you pretty close to home

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      location by IP

      then why is my location reported as "near Dudley" from my IP, when I'm hundreds of miles away? Don't always believe what you read, because in this case it's wrong.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bloody soft wazzocks...

    Eeeh, when I were 't lad, it were right 'ard to make 't complete arsehole of yerself. You had to really work at it; vomiting in the lap of the right lass when y'd nearly got lucky, spending months saving up from yer tuppence a week wages to have go faster stripes, furry dice and a spoiler added t' yer Ford Escort RS2000 lookalike. It were craft, it were. These days kids 'ave it all done for 'em - soft bastards. Just log on t'interwebs and some spotty 12 year old capitalist 'as yer lifetime of embarrassment all mapped out for yer at the push of a button. Press t' wrong button on portable telephone and the world + whippet knows y' ain't fumbling wi' Elsie Braithwaite's bra strap behind t' cricket pavillion, but getting spit roasted by a couple of ex-miners called Sid and Ernie in t' lav at t' "Pigeon Fanciers Arms". Bloody soft I call it.

  18. bharq

    please rob me

    reminds me of that Dutch guy with his "please rob me" website...

  19. dotdavid

    Actually on second thoughts...

    ...this could be some fun. Maybe we should all tag ourselves in exotic locations that we're not actually at, rendering the whole exercise rather pointless and adding too much noise to the signal.

    Perhaps a Facebook app could be developed to allow us to do this automatically.

    Mine's the one with the virtual plane ticket in the pocket.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    This is the last straw

    I got Facebook last year when I emigrated, to "make it easier" to keep in touch with people. Yeah right. I am now heartily sick of it. I am sick of the spam, and yes, asking me to send you gifts on Mafia Wars, is spam.

    The continuous problems with privacy is another factor, as are all the pointless quizes, "Become a Fan of Fridays", and idiotic advert-ridden games.

    Not to mention the fact that it hasn't made it easier for me to keep in touch. If anything it has made it harder. I spend so much time wading through useless information that I dont want or need, to find tiny nuggets of Information. I dont care if you just watered your crops in Amish-land, I dont care if you have just won a fight with Don No-life in Ganster Wars, and I dont care if you have found the final magic crystal of health and Glory, in The Search for the 198 Magical Crystals of Health and Glory".

    No matter how many times I try to opt out of this cr@p, someone invites me, or adds me or some such.

    I am going to give my email address to everyone on my buddylist, say Bye bye, and delete my account. The people that matter, I will stay in touch with in the usual way(phone/email/down the pub). The people that don't matter, don't matter.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge


      you need to 'unfriend' the idiots that keep sending you all this crap, and turn off the settings that send you an email every time someone farts? Why are people so quick to diss Facebook for the reams of rubbish that it spouts at them, when all that crud arises from the people they have added, nominally their 'friends'. That you're receiving all this 'loose stool water of the worst type' (thank you Stephen Fry for that particular euphemism) is probably an indication that you are a fairly poor judge of character, not an indication that Facebook is spamming you.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    NSA to buy facebook

    The spooks must be laughing themselves silly. They spent billions and 70 years trying and failing to collect this level of data on the population. And now they realise that all they needed to do was ask nice, and most people would populate the "1984" database themselves. I wonder how often the NSA slurps a copy of the Facebook database? Yearly? Monthly? In real time?

    To JohnSmith19, your scenario 2 and 3 assumes the internet will forget what it already knows. Seems unlikely.

    Which leaves us with scenario 1. Total loss of privacy.

    Except for the regtards who opted out, logged off, or filled their Failbook with fiction.

    However, if Failbook encourages other people to Place you, then how long before it also encourages your "friends" to fill in all the blanks on the Failbook profile which you dont have (yet!).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That I can see this coming

      I wonder how long it's going to be before they do start encouraging people to start proxy profiles on behalf of those who haven't yet seen the light, helpfully filled in by others and pointed in your direction via a "recommendation" from xxx? "Fill in the blanks and win an exclusive and intrusive free app for a friend of your choice!"

      I'm surprised Labour didn't insist on one as a condition of getting a passport.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        They did..

        "I'm surprised Labour didn't insist on one as a condition of getting a passport."

        Actually, AFAIK that is what the whole reference malarkey is for. You'd have someone associated with a local even before they step over the border.. That has been going on from long before New Labour, though, although I bet they wished they'd invented that.

        Actually, data acquisition through 3rd parties has been a longstanding hole in all Data Protection and privacy laws. It is difficult - if you get that data, how are you going to contact the 3rd party to ask for permission? You can't, hurray!

        This is why I delight in feeding anyone as much false data as I can get away with. Disable geo location in Firefox, load up Tor and also make sure you've switched off the referral site notifier, then start creating fake accounts..

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sad, Sad pathetic little people......

    all "over 500 million" of them.

    Feeble of mind.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IP Location

    Almost 2000 km offset between (one of) my ISP stated location and my actual location. Another ISP option puts me in an entirely different country. Useful offset, use it all the time.

  24. JeffyPooh

    iPhone location firewall

    I updated my Faceborked iPhone app and then clicked on the Places button. My iPhone responded by asking if the app was permitted to know my location. Clicked Decline.

    What I'm saying is that some of the location leakage is firewalled by the iPhone OS if you so choose.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All you Facebook haterz...

    Facebook and other social networking technologies are brilliant. You can broadcast information to a selected group of people, which they have the option of reading or not. Like e-mail, but less intrusive and requiring no response.

    For the socially disinterested geek, this is a superb invention. It relieves you of (a) deciding which of the people you know are actually your friends (b) having the same inefficient "catch up" conversations multiple times.

    When you meet people face-to-face, you can skip all the "what have you been up to" crap and get right to the good stuff.

    Since Facebook, I haven't had to actually speak to my sister for months at a time. Believe me, this is a fantastic development.

  26. Cool Hand Luke

    You just have to know how to use it.

    Facebook is just like everything else. Use it incorrectly and you can get into a world of hurt very quickly. However, learn to use it correctly and you can do away with bothersome spam.

    Don't like seeing requests for Farmville? Then just click the button next to the post. Piff, paff, poof, all farmville announcements are not gone. It works for all the other games and apps that your "friends" use.

    You can even stop individuals from spamming you without removing them as a friend. Just tick the "less from this person" button and guess what? Yep they've gone and you haven't insulted them by deleting them from your list.

    Facebook isn't perfect by all means, but as long as you don't put up things like your DOB, home address, telephone number(s) then you can use it without much fear.

    1. GeorgeTuk


      Couldn't have put it better myself, so I won't.

  27. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    @ AC 10:04 GMT "This is the last straw"

    Wow, just how busy must your life be to get so flustered and irate over a couple of mouse clicks.

    I don't get any of this, as just like Tathan Jones I've only ever used it for the basics. A quick 2 or 3 minutes a month just to review my privacy settings is all it takes to make FB a very useful tool.

    For all the rest of you who have made the mistake of bothering with all the superfluous carp... well, what did you expect? You reap what you sow.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Facebook was primarily designed as a social networking tool. That is, a tool to aid in networking on a social level. This includes making new friends, getting business contacts, starting relationships and everything else that comes with being social.

    I have 4 lists of friends on FB. One I regard as acquaintances, that can see my contact information. Another I regard as good friends, who can see my status updates and contact information and a list who are my closest friends, who can see everything. My final list is people that are in effect bars, clubs, restaurants, club nights etc.

    It is a tool and like every tool out there, it has a manual.

    The games annoy you? Block the application.

    Some friends updates/posts annoy you? Remove the friend from your news feed.

    You don't trust that person but need to keep in contact with him? Put him on a restricted list.

    I have got free concert tickets from a friend I rarely speak to anymore. I have learnt about events close to me from another. I know the deals going on in local bars and restaurants from clicking the appropriate list on my news feed. I met my girlfriend through a friend of a friend on there.

    People should learn how to use it properly and add a benefit to their lives.

    Those that diss it, do not understand it, have not taken the time to learn about it, or are simply not social.

    For me, it keeps me entertained and informed.

  29. dssf

    Friends can still read my wall posts despite changing the settings...

    I changed my wall settings to "only me", yet when i preview my profile via the profile of a friend, i can still see on my wall comments made by a third party.

    I think facebook should create another level of privacy called "common friends only" so that ONLY such friends can see things.

    It should be possible for one to create groups (just like in computer security) or roles into which such assigned friends are the only ones who can legitimately and by standard means see things you want to share but not specifically put in a message. This way, if you add new people or existing non-common friends to a group, those people can be made privvy.

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