Behind the Places That Facebook’s iPhone App Goes [Rant]

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 peopleĀ 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?