zuck1 300x221 Everything You Need To Know About Facebook PlacesToday at Facebook’s HQ, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg officially announced Facebook’s long anticipated Places feature, saying it is meant for “serendipitous meetings”.  ”This is going to a really fun and interesting summer,” said Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg said that Facebook developed Places for the following three reasons:

  1. Help you share where you are with your friends
  2. See where your friends are
  3. Discover new places

“We develop things and then when we have the feeling that they are ready to go we roll them out,” said Zuckerberg, joking that, ”I guess it’s a little more than a few.”

Zuckerberg said that Places really hit home for him when, “I was out to dinner with my girlfriend in Menlo Park, and I’m showing her the product” and she saw that one of their friends was in the restaurant - awww.

Facebook Places will launch on touch.facebook.com (for touch devices such as the iPad) as well a new iPhone app that Facebook will launch later today – UPDATE: the new version of the iPhone app is live for you to either update or install.

A short video that Facebook showed at the event showed how the social network is looking at the feature: “a way to capture these memories in you life.”

Facebook did not dodge the “check-in” bullet at all, going directly with that verbiage. Facebook is also strongly focusing on tagging with location so that users will be able to tag other people that they are checking into. You can only tag your friends, and only tag them when checking in. Users are notified when they’re tagged and can remove tags. So basically, it seems as if friends will be able to check in other friends.

There is a “People Here Now” feature that, according to the Facebook Blog:

In the “People Here Now” section, you can see others who are checked in with you at that place. This section is visible for a limited amount of time and only to people who are checked in there. That way you can meet other people who might share your interests. If you prefer not to appear in this section, you can control whether you show up by unchecking the “Include me in ‘People Here Now’ after I check in” privacy control.

In the “People Here Now” section, you can see others who are checked in with you at that place. This section is visible for a limited amount of time and only to people who are checked in there. That way you can meet other people who might share your interests. If you prefer not to appear in this section, you can control whether you show up by unchecking the “Include me in ‘People Here Now’ after I check in” privacy control.

Facebook has also, as expected, announced a Facebook Places API with read, write & search API (though apparently read-only at launch), and initial partners include Yelp, Gowalla and Foursquare. Basically, when you check-in with these services you’ll be able to choose whether or not to share your check-in with Facebook Places. Booyah’s MyTown decided to rework their entire app to work with Facebook Places.

Right now Places only works in the US and will roll out gradually for US users over the next few days. The service also integrates Bing Maps as part of its ongoing Microsoft partnership. As far as privacy is concerned, here’s how the Facebook Blog describes what you can do:

“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. Your friends will be able to share your check-ins with the applications they use to help create new social experiences with location. If you don’t want to share your check-ins with your friends’ applications, just uncheck the new box in your Privacy Settings under “Applications and Websites.”"

We checked our Privacy settings and “Places I check in” was defaulted to Friends Only, “Include me in “People here now” after I check in” checked as “Enable”, and “Friends can check me in to places” was defaulted as “Select One” with the options to enable or disable.

As far as creating a new place, Facebook said at the press conference that when someone creates a place it is private for the user and the user’s friends, and then when enough people check into the location, the location becomes public (though technically all places are “public” apparently). There will be a link at the bottom of Places pages that says “Is this your business?” that can be used by business owners to claim a place. Businesses that are shut down will seemingly still exist after their doors close.

Finally, right now, Facebook isn’t going the route of product/media check-ins, instead sticking with physical locations only.

So, what do you think about Facebook Places? Please tell us in the comments!