Disabling Facebook Places to Maintain Location Privacy

Privacy is still a huge issue making the internet rounds today, especially in reference to location based services. Foursquare, now nearing three million members, has added some privacy measures of its own in advance of their partnership with Facebook Places.  Both foursquare and Gowalla launched their services a little over a year ago at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in 2009.

Fast Company does a great job of discussing the differences between these two geo-location-based start-ups in this post. Location-based services were the main topic of discussion at the March 2010 Cincinnati AMA Interactive Marketing SIG meeting. You can read Rob Bunting’s post here.

Facebook users are already a little suspect of the social networking site’s seeming disregard for privacy measures. Facebook rolled out the location based service, Facebook Places last week with little warning on the site. You may have seen some unusual posts in your news stream in the last couple of days indicating the location from which people are posting their status updates. I saw one from a newly found cousin of mine that stated that he had  checked in from home. Clicking on the link took me to a map of his location. The red balloon seemed to be pointing to a cemetery. Not sure if he lives near one or was just being funny, but it certainly got my curiosity going. It made me wonder whether he knew that his location was being updated into the Facebook newsfeed.

Facebook Places Privacy Settings
Image via C3: Creating Connections Consulting, LLC

Learning how to set the controls for location-based posts might be a good thing to do as Lifehacker points out in this post, He mentions that your friends can check you into places without your knowledge.  This could make for an embarrassing moment, especially if your friend list includes colleagues or even your boss. Your location can also be shared with your friends’ applications which is another way to lose control over your privacy.

The Facebook Blog states:

When your friends check you in, it is as if you have checked in at that place yourself. You also will appear checked-in to your friends.

Take these steps if you would like to disable the location ability on your Facebook account:

Facebook Places Privacy Settings
Image via C3: Creating Connections Consulting, LLC

Step 1:  Go to Privacy Settings under the Account Tab in the upper right hand corner of your screen

Step 2:  Click on Customize Settings on the bottom

Under Things I Share:

Step 3:  Go to ‘Places I check in to’- and choose the setting most appropriate for you: Everyone, Friends, Friends of Friends, Custom (meaning you can block people) which also includes an Only Me option

Step 4: Go to “Include me in ‘people here now’ after I check in”. This is visible to friends and people checked in nearby. Leave the Enable box unchecked if you don’t want to be included.

Facebook Places Privacy Settings
Image via C3: Creating Connections Consulting, LLC

Under Things Others Share:

Step 5:  Go to “Friends can check me into places”. You need to actually indicate Disable or Enable with a check otherwise the default option will occur.

That’s it! Now you can update from any place and your whereabouts will be unknown.

Copyright Michelle Beckham-Corbin~  2010~All Rights Reserved

Cross-posted at Cincinnati Social Media Examiner


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