My friend Elen doesn’t have a smartphone, she doesn’t use FourSquare and until about 1 year ago she was a Facebook refusenik. Now it’s the best way to contact her. Why is that?
Facebook is user friendly. It’s simple, it’s unpretentious, it doesn’t’ require you to be an early adopter and you can keep in touch “lightly” with friends and acquaintances with ease. It’s fun. That’s why I am not going to be amongst the Facebook Places Nay Sayers. I suspect it will open the eyes of a whole new bunch of people to location based services.
Yes I appreciate that there are privacy questions and that the average Facebook user is not exactly aware of those. But they can be solved quite simply by restricting who can view you. And perhaps it’s my job as a super user to make sure that everyone I know gets that information instead of moaning about the fact that it’s not clear enough – it’s a social network after all.
Yes advertisers can use the information to sell to us, but then again at least we input that information in the first place. Advertisers are using information we haven’t given them all the time – on TV, radio and print. At least this way we might get something we like and think is relevant, or even better something that makes us laugh because it’s so badly targeted. Places could also open up some real fun and creativity because it has a much larger network to tap into than FourSquare and GoWalla. The joy of social networks is when they produce spontaneous and unplanned behaviours.
Finally, I think it’s naïve to criticise Facebook for doing this. Where exactly did we think the financial models would come from for the other location based services?