Facebook Places’ Facebook Problem and Why I’m Not Deleting Foursquare

Facebook Places’ Facebook Problem and Why I’m Not Deleting Foursquare

There is nothing worse than a social web app that forces you to push everything you do to Facebook.

We’ve all seen these apps.

You sync them with your Facebook account once – maybe to do a friend look-up, maybe to post a single bit of content – and before you realize whats happening, everything you do on that web app is getting blasted out to your Facebook network.

It’s annoying, it’s spammy, and it can be embarrassing.

Happily, most web apps that integrate with Facebook Connect give you the courtesy of selectively choosing which post you send out to Facebook.  Foursquare, Gowalla, and Yelp are just three examples of this approach.  You check in, post, write a review – whatever – and upon publishing, you are given the choice of where you want to push out your content.

This is the right way to do it.

Which brings me to Facebook Places.

As I went about my business in San Francisco this past weekend, of course I was looking to log the places I went via check-in.

When it came time to choose between Facebook Places and other check-in apps, I found myself reaching for the dedicated location networks.  Why?  Because I didn’t want to bombard my 500+ Facebook friends with my check-ins, and I didn’t want my Facebook profile to be dominated with only check-ins.

Because Foursquare is exclusively a social location service, I don’t have these same concerns about bugging my Foursquare friend network.  If you are my friend on Foursquare, by definition, you are signing up to hear about my trip to the hoops court or the coffee shop.  I don’t feel bad at all.

But with Facebook Places, in its current iteration, I either blast out my location to everybody in my 500+ person network (and rely on Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm to determine which of my FB friends actually care), or I reach for another network like Foursquare, whose graph has been built specifically from the ground up for these kinds of updates.

It  is conceivable that Facebook Places could add a “push to Facebook newsfeed?” option upon check-in solve this problem.

But it seems unlikely.  Facebook Places is a feature that lives within the larger Facebook experience and adding a “push to Facebook” check box on a Facebook feature like Places would likely be pretty confusing for most people.

I think that Facebook Places is very impressive.  But because my Facebook social graph was not built with a constant stream of location updates in mind, I’m not going to delete my Foursquare account any time soon.

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