In an analysis, Sharon Gaudin at Computerworld discusses Facebook’s new location-sharing feature “Places.” The ACLU of Northern California also has weighed in on the privacy implications of the social-networking site’s latest change, with instructions on how to opt-out of the location-sharing.
On Wednesday, Facebook took the wraps off of Places, a smartphone-based service that enables users to tell their friends where they are, and to track friends. The service, which is slowly being rolled out to users, enables people to share their friends’ locations.
After dealing with angry and frustrated users for months this year, Facebook is jumping back into already-tumultuous privacy waters with its new location-based service.
Any location-based service will instill some trepidation in users who see it as a stalker’s best friend. Want to know where someone is? Check Places. Want to know when someone is away from home so you can break in and steal their flat-screen TV? Check Places.
And while that’s always an issue, forcing users to opt out of using the service rather than allowing them to opt in has some privacy advocates up in arms. Facebook has set up Places so that it is on by default, and users must make their way through the system’s privacy controls in order to turn it off. […]
[Brad Shimmin, an analyst at Current Analysis.], however, said Facebook didn’t make the privacy settings easy enough and noted that some users are confused by the process of trying to opt out.
“I’ve seen manuals for programming your DVR that are simpler,” he added. “Lessons learned in the past would indicate the way this should have been rolled out is with an opt-in. It should allow any users, whether smart or stupid, to say ‘Yes, I want to participate’ or ‘No, I don’t want to participate.'”