Revisiting FB’s Places (& kids’ use of it)

By Anne Collier

A bit more on Facebook’s location-sharing product, Places (here’s my last post on it ). I don’t think Places is going to be all that popular with people under 16 (non-drivers), except maybe urban dwellers with easy access to public transport. But I could turn out to be wrong and would appreciate hearing from you if you’re finding that kids at your house or school are using it a lot (pls email anne[at] I don’t think social mapping or geolocation is inherently dangerous, but if kids under 16 are using it, I hope parents know about it and are talking with them about how they’re using Places and other social location-sharing tools. An important point made in this long piece in the Minneapolis Star Tribune is about the difference between a more single-purpose app like Foursquare Places and location-sharing in tandem with all the information available on a general-purpose social site like Facebook – IF that information’s is very public. And there’s the rub. The Star Tribune talked to one high school student who said she “didn’t touch her settings until her dad, concerned for her safety, sat down with her to go over the potential risks. She told the reporter her first reaction was that Places was “cool” – she didn’t think about the settings. That’s it right there, parents. So much of the solution is mindful use – and that sometimes needs encouragement from us. Facebook provides lots of safety settings and info for teens and parents – including a default setting that keeps teens from announcing their location to anybody not on their friends list – so location-sharing will probably be just fine for kids who use it mindfully and never hurtfully. For any parent who disagrees or just doesn’t what the kids to “go there,” the Star Tribune has an elegantly concise sidebar about how to disable Places. [For another parent’s good advice on teens’ online privacy in general, see this at]

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