Continuing in my short lived residency here at iDB is my Friday rant that is usually based off a particular story in the week that rubbed me the wrong way. When we reported about Facebook adding GPS check in capabilities I knew my topic had been sealed. I will preface my outburst by informing you all that I am one of the few individuals I know who doesn’t have a profile in the world’s biggest social platform. I had one for less than a month and every lousy expectation I envisioned came to life.

I have no bones to pick with users who have Facebook accounts. If I did I would have almost no one to talk to. My beef comes from the irresponsible undertones involved with the new Places feature embedded within the iPhone app. I have yet to hear a responsible or even reasonable explanation for desiring to participate in sharing your location with your “friends”. The whole memories still not being captured song and dance that Facebook cites as motivation is as corny as a field in Iowa.

The sole purpose behind Facebook’s approach is only more self centered than it is potentially dangerous. There aren’t even any dukes to be crowed like in Yelp, or badges to be earned like in Foursquare (as flimsy as those goals may be). Nope. The only point to checking in through Facebook’s service is to show off your latest stop on the road, and to drag whatever friends in your company down with you. I know users can opt-out of the service, but let’s get real. The very nature of the social media site is to broadcast your life as much as possible. The more you show, the cooler your life seems, is the agenda Facebook pulls off better than anyone.

Who cares about your latest stop at Walmart to buy razor blades or the visit you just partook in at the pizzeria? Other than you probably no one. No one except those who may want to do you harm. Many users I know have hundreds upon hundreds of “friends” on their page and some couldn’t recite their last names if the site didn’t already show it to them.

People are braver online than in any other platform. The lack of face to face accountability makes people behave in ways they would never otherwise consider. Forgetting to delete a weirdo you recently met, combined with the addition of Places has now given this shifty person a roadmap to your whereabouts. There have already been people killed due to the allure that Facebook inflicts before users were giving out real-time addresses. Why make it easier?

When the government taps our phones or the airport takes full body screenings it is considered to be a gross violation of our right to privacy. When we do it ourselves it’s considered Facebook. If you think that the data from this ability is only available to those on your friends feed, then I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

For starters the developers within the Facebook arena will likely top the list. Now add everyone that person chooses to share that information with. If you think the government isn’t going to be eying up the potential behind hundreds of millions of self-tracked people I urge you to wake up.

This is just my opinion though. What does the founder of Facebook think of the trusting nature of his users? Here’s an exchange via The Register in which CEO Mark Zuckerberg refers to his initial trusting Harvard members as “dumb fucks” Take a look.

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend’s Name]: What? How’d you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don’t know why.

Zuck: They “trust me”

Zuck: Dumb fucks

Perhaps the then 19 year old has since matured but nevertheless, Zuckerberg certainly saw the folly of strangers handing over their personal information. And those were Harvard students.

As a lover of freedom I earnestly try to steer away from telling others how to live. We all have choices to make and consequences that follow. Perhaps my head is so far in the clouds that I just don’t get it. I’ve looked hard at finding a non-egotistical or dangerous motive for Facebook’s take on location based check-ins. I remain empty handed. Is your belief similar to mine, or will you broaden my horizons and offer some validity for Places in our comment box below?

  • Me and my friends use Foursquare for location data. It’s *extremely* useful for our use case. What is that use case? Why, meeting up with each other, of course.

    I have a group of about 60 friends that I hang out with on a fairly regular, if rotating, basis. Of those, perhaps 30 use Foursquare. When I want to go out to the bar, for example, I can pop open Foursquare and see where my friends are at that moment. Then I can go there and join them. Or if I go somewhere and they want to join me, they can easily find my location.

    Not all meetups have to planned out ahead of time. Many people go out quite often and regularly, meeting up with friends around their area on a regular basis. Before we all started using Foursquare, we did much the same thing only using text messages back and forth to each other. This was inconvenient and difficult, at best.

    Facebook Places has no more or less utility than Foursquare does for this sort of thing, but if you’re the kind of person who “friends” people you don’t actually know, or who doesn’t have any friends that you hang out with regularly in real life, then yeah, it may seem kind of pointless. But don’t dismiss it immediately as mere ego-driven nonsense, because not everybody has the same life you live. It’s not ego for me to check in somewhere when people I know can see it and then decide to join me there. That’s utility and functionality that is useful to me.

  • Tom

    You know what’s an even greater ego-wank?


  • user

    It just seems like another case of people not taking responsibility for their own actions, again. Why would you friend someone you don’t know anyway? Sure I do understand why, there are lots of facebook games that are better when you have friends playing. And lots of those friends aren’t really ‘friends’ you know personally.

    Broadcasting is your own personal choice. It isn’t done automatically without you knowing first. You press a button, it’s your choice. No one is forcing you. If you are already on facebook, then you are already broadcasting your life already. Most, not all, of facebook users already broadcast personal things throughout the day. From how they are feeling, to what they are looking forward to doing tonight. Most of these posts already have detailed information as to where they are going and going to do. And it’s their choice to do it. So now we have a little more friendly user interface to do that with. If no one ever posted their personal life before this, this sort of thing wouldn’t even been created. So, I don’t understand how ppl can get upset about their personal life being broadcast over the internet to ‘stranger friends’ when they’ve been doing it all along. And it’s even more crazy that ppl don’t take responsibility for their own actions. If you post something, then you have done it and are responsible.. don’t blame a website or someone else for actions you do yourself.

  • Also:

    If you think that the data from this ability is only available to those on your friends feed, then I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

    The data from Facebook Places is only available to a select number of my own friends, because I specifically set it that way in my privacy settings.

    Not that I care if the whole world knows where I am, because I frankly don’t, but I set it up this way so as to avoid spamming people who don’t live near me with that information. They’re probably not interested.

  • alex jones

    It’s a way for the system to be able to track citizens willingly, and make them think it is their choice.

    Greatest trick the devil did was convincing people he didn’t exist.

  • Tony

    I am also one of the few people around the world, say 500, who doesnt have a facebook account.

    Maybe you guys use it as a way to connect with your close friends and it’s great and whatnot, but 99% of users like Ethan said are just plain show offs and this new service is another reason for them to step it up a notch.

    Again i dont mind Facebook as a service if it is used in the way you guys claim to use it, but seriously it is full of desperate wannabes trying to convince the rest of the world they are more that what people think of them and that is pure lack of confidence.

    So yes i totally agree with you Ethan keep up the good work.