"Facebook Places" – It's Not Your Big Brother – IT IS BIG BROTHER

Tonight Facebook released "Facebook Places" there shoe-horn into the location (proximity) based landscape. This should come as no surprise as Foursquare, GoWalla, Yelp and others have been clawing each others eyes out to make hay while the sun shines. Well the suns officially eclipsed by the 500-million pound gorilla called "Facebook."

I don't have a defined opinion pro or con on the service but to say that Facebook clearly sees that this is a defined part of digital social communication and therefore we should all be paying attention. And while many of us have been singing the praises of location based marketing long before now this will assuredly make your physical location a major kernel in the fabric within your social graph. But without a doubt Facebook already has profiled me better than the FBI could (if they're not already collecting all our data from Facebook); having this next level of granularity is about as close as you'll come to 'being me' short of mounting a camera on my forehead. That's in next years roll-out I'm sure.

Below you will find all the elements I could aggregate tonight from various news sites and first hand accounts of the release.

Facebook Places is a checkin service that’s quite similar to Foursquare or Gowalla on the surface — it allows you to checkin to places. What differentiates it is its tagging features, which allow you to tag friends that are with you at a location. There is also a focus on Facebook Place Pages, which house the checkin history of a given place on the web.

Facebook says it is adding Places merely to enrich the social experience it already provides. The company says its users already post status messages that say things like: “at Starbucks in Harvard Square with Susan and Jeff.” Now, they can tap a new Places icon in the Facebook app on their iPhones and do this more easily, complete with a map. “We’re just building a new way for people to share that information in an engaging way,” says one Facebook official.

• Initially, the service will only be available as an iPhone app or through a special touch.facebook.com web site - which the company says works really nice on Android and other smartphones.

• You can “tag” friends that are with you at a specific location. Thus, everybody doesn’t have to check-in on their own.

• Facebook is partnering with Foursquare and Gowalla, two already-popular location-based social networks that also allow users to "check in."

• Places lets you see your friends and other Facebook members (even if they’re not your friends), who are nearby, a feature called “People Here Now.”

• You also have the choice to turn off the ability for friends to check you in at Places. Go to your Privacy Settings and turn off the setting to "Let Friends Check Me In."

• Facebook included tagging and the ability to check friends in as well, with strict privacy controls. Users can opt out if they wish, both from tagging and checking in.

• Integration is simple: every time you check-in, you can share it with your Facebook friends, Twitter, or just to your Yelp friends. It publishes a photo of the business as well as some info about it on your wall.

• Facebook appears to be asking users to opt-in as opposed to forcing them to opt out, which is what spurred controversy with the instant personalization feature.

• I-Phone only with Android and other platforms to roll out ASAP.

• Fourquare also has turned off some potential users with a big overlay of game-like features, like earning points and badges for visiting places, and even the ability to become the “mayor” of, say, a bar you frequent.

• You may want to share your check-in information with third-party applications that build interesting experiences around location, such as travel planning. Applications you use must receive your permission before getting this information.