Facebook Places launches in the UK

Katie Gatto · September 17, 2010 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/11ea

With its rapid expansion into Europe and Japan, the question is: How will it make money?

Facebook Places went live Friday in the UK. It was Facebook's first entry into Europe for its location-based service, which had already launched in Japan, and comes just one month after debuting in the US. 

This rapid expansion begs one question: How will Facebook make money from Places?

For now - advertising. We know that Facebook is targeting advertisers and has a guide to Places for Advertisers, designed just for them. The guide shows them how to integrate places with their existing accounts. The service is free to business, for the time being.

Sometime in the future, Facebook may be able to use the data of people checking into services to create location-target advertising. Imagine, walking into a store and getting a digital coupon for its competitor, who happens to be two doors down. There's a lot of potential. That kind of customer poaching could mean big bucks for Facebook. Companies may even pay a premium for this type of service.

While Facebook does not currently sell user data, it does have a history of changing its privacy policy to suit its needs. Several privacy advocates have raised concerns. Some of them are fairly vocal and reputable. And, even when Facebook first launched in the US, on August 18th, it was met with mixed reviews, partly because of privacy concerns.

As a matter of fact, the tagging feature - which allows a person to tag that friend in the same location - will allow Facebook to get more access to information, even if a person doesn't want that information to be known. That's because the tagging feature allows data to be collected on users who do not choose to check in. When their friends tag them, it will make the same data available. Fortunately, a user can deny permission to have their location known. But they have to do it each time they're tagged. Talk about inconvenience! It's no wonder there's been such mixed reviews.

Speaking of mixed receptions, some experts think that Places may not get an overwhelming reception in the UK. "Facebook Places is likely to experience a slow rate of adoption among UK audiences on its launch as people try to uncover its practical value," Martin McNulty, general manager of Forward 3D, told the Telegraph. "Although many of the older generation are likely to be sceptical at first about the safety aspects of announcing your location to the digital world..." 
Even with slow adoption, Facebook could still collect data on a significant number of people. With over 500 million active users on the site, Facebook has the potential to collect a great deal of data about its users, and their locations. At least, its new UK based users are used to being watched. They have had an increasing amount of surveillance.  The nation had an estimated 4.2 million CCTV cameras in 2006. That is about one for every 14 people.

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