Facebook is going to be joining the frenzy to help everyone not only know what people are thinking but also where they are thinking it. As we move more toward a world of this total view of another’s life you can be sure that Facebook wants to be involved. With the rising popularity of Foursquare, Gowalla and other location based “services” it makes sense that Facebook be here. In the bigger picture, however, this is likely to be more about taking on Google for local advertising dollars. After all, money has to be made correct?
The New York Times Bits section reports
Starting next month, the more than 400 million Facebook users could begin seeing a new kind of status update flow through their news feed: the current locations of their friends.
Facebook plans to take the wraps off a new location-based feature in late April at f8, the company’s yearly developer conference, according to several people briefed on the project, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss unannounced services.
On reports like this where there is the “unauthorized” source that is talking about unannounced services I always have the picture of a clandestine meeting under a gas lamp picture. Two shadowy figures exchange a note and keep walking on a lonely street in the fog kinda thing. Then I wonder who these “sources” are, if they are really unauthorized or are they part of the new age of PR which is more about leaking information than announcing it. Officially Facebook is staying mum.
Meredith Chin, a Facebook spokeswoman, said Tuesday that the company wasn’t ready to discuss any possible location-based features. “We’re constantly experimenting with new things around here, but we don’t have any details to share right now,” she said in an e-mail message.
It appears as if Facebook will remain friendly to the developer community on this one as well according to these “sources”. With estimates that 100 million users access Facebook daily via a mobile device (which represents 1 in 4 total Facebook users) this service is primed for quick adoption for those who like this kind of thing. As a result there is money to be made and allowing a business as usual attitude with the Facebook development community only makes sense.
Of course there will be plenty of concern about security and privacy because Facebook has turned itself into the poster child for how not to do new things and thus open the door to criticism. Maybe this information “leak” is designed to let the air out of any arguments that this new offering will face. I admit, my inner ‘conspiracy theorist’ is strong today.
So what do you think about this new, soon to be (we think), offering by Facebook? Of course, the details are sketchy but you must have an opinion on the general idea, right? Chime in. We’re listening but we’re not telling you from where ;-).