The Issue:

In August, Facebook released its location-based product Places, which allows friends to tag you when they check in somewhere. Yet the ACLU immediately identified two key issues with the app:

  • Problem 1: You don’t have full control over who can see you in the “Here Now” list. You can only choose to turn the feature on or off. If it’s on, any Places user who checks in at the same place can see you in the Here Now list.
  • Problem 2: “Here Now” is turned on by default if you have previously selected that “Everyone” can see even a single piece of your information.

The Concerns

From ACLU: “Your friends’ apps may be able to access information about your most recent check-in by default as soon as you start using Places. Even if you’ve already gone through your settings to limit the info that apps can access, you should do it again — you may find that you’ve been defaulted into sharing your location info with apps.”

Facebook’s Defense:

Barry Schnitt, Facebook’s director of policy communications: “No one can be checked in to a location without their explicit permission. Many third parties have applauded our controls, indicating that people have more protections using Facebook Places than other widely used location services available today.”

For sources, see our References page.

Location Services

The Facebook app by default allows anyone to see you listed at your location, and provides no opt-out option.