Facebook to share user's location on status update

Facebook users may no longer have to type out their whereabouts in status updates, as the site may soon let them tag their locations automatically.

Several anonymous sources told The New York Times that Facebook will unveil geolocation features at its yearly f8 developers conference in late April. Facebook spokeswoman Meridith Chin wouldn’t confirm the rumor.

Details are scarce, but the Times says Facebook’s geolocation features will have two components: One is offered directly to users for sharing locations with friends, and the other is an application programming interface for third-party developers to build location sharing into their Facebook apps.

My gut reaction is nervousness, given that Facebook doesn’t have a spotless privacy track record. Most recently, the site changed its privacy settings to encourage more public activity that isn’t limited to your friends list. One can imagine a similar fiasco where Facebook springs location sharing on its 400 million users without adequate explanation.

Fortunately, the Times reports that Facebook’s location sharing will likely be opt-in, as indicated by recent changes to the site’s privacy policy. Facebook staff reportedly know that location features could turn into a fiasco, so they’ve been proceeding with caution, working on the project for almost a year.

If handled properly, Facebook location sharing could be pretty cool. Imagine being able to connect with people around you in Farmville to create a sort of hyperlocal commune, or the ability to get pinged by iLike when lots of people are congregating at a nearby music venue. Location services are a tool that Facebook should have by now, but given the privacy concerns, it’s understandable if the site needs time to get it right.

Source: PC World

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