Facebook announced that it will shortly launche a "Location Based Stalking Tool", err, I mean, "Product". This service will let everyone spy on your current location. In other words your stalkers will know where you are, and your local burglars and bad guys will know where you aren't. What could possibly go wrong?
Yes indeed- what could go wrong with a service that tells everyone exactly where you are (and therefore, where you aren't)? The only surprising thing is that Facebook didn't name this feature the "Stalking and Burglary Assistance Service".
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, says the service is all about "helping share where you are in a nice and social way, to see who's around you, and just discover new and cool places to visit in the future." And, of course, finding yet another way to mine your personal life data in order to target more ads to you.
Note to Mark: If I want to "see who's around me", I raise my head and turn it back and forth, while keeping my eyes open. Works every time. I don't need Facebook for that.
If I want to share where I am (I don't, usually), I simply tell people where I'll be. I don't call my local crack dealer to let him know that I won't be home for the next few hours.
And If I want to "discover new and cool places", I ask my friends to suggest a place. It's low-tech, but incredibly enough, it seems to work. Since my friends know what I like, they rarely suggest I "drop by Mac's Auto Glass Center for their 50%-off windshield sale going on NOW!". So I don't need Facebook for that, either.
Named "Places", service goes live August 19, but you lucky iPhone fan-bois will have access to an app available on August 18 (a whole 24 hours early!! OMG OMG!). (The "Places" name was so hard to come up with that it's likely the marketing team probably had to go out and buy a dictionary or two.)
According to Zuckerberg, Facebook Places has been in development for several months. With an extensive development history like that we're sure it's gonna be 100% bug-free. Just like all their other stuff. (Be sure to check back here for ongoing, detailed accounts of all of the privacy-leaking bugs that ware sure to be found.)
In Facebook's typical "your-privacy-isn't-our-problem" attitude, the Places service will be turned on by default, whether you want it to be or not. Remember, at the heart of this service is the desire to make more money off of you. Doing anything genuinely useful for you is a secondary concern. If Facebook could find a way to make a dollar off of killing your family pets and burning down nursing homes, that service would be added and turned on by default too.
To reclaim the last vestige of your privacy, here's how you can disable this helpful "come burgle my home" service:
Go to Account –> Privacy -> Customize Settings.
Change "Places I check in" to "only me".
Uncheck "enable" the "Include me in 'People Here Now' after I check in" setting.
Finally, set "Friends can check me in to Places" to "disabled".
Once you do that, you're back to the good ol' privacy-invading Facebook as you know and love it.
That's about it for now. By the way, in case any of you want to come over and burgle my home, I'll be at the dentist from 2 to 4 this afternoon and then I'll be running some errands waaaay on the other side of town. That should give you a good 3 to 4 hours to paw through my stuff and take what you want. (For updates, please check my Facebook page, under the "Best Times To Burgle Me" panel.)