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This article was published on August 20, 2010

Facebook Places is Radical, Innovative, and Disruptive

Facebook Places is Radical, Innovative, and Disruptive
Lawrence Coburn
Story by

Lawrence Coburn

Lawrence Coburn is the Founder and CEO of DoubleDutch (, whose suite of mobile enterprise apps includes Hive (www.doubled Lawrence Coburn is the Founder and CEO of DoubleDutch (, whose suite of mobile enterprise apps includes Hive (, the first contextual CRM.

I’ve spent the last few days analyzing the Facebook Places pre announcement speculation, reading the post announcement analysis, and finally, playing with the app.

The general consensus about the service is that Facebook Places seems to be that it is a conservative, well executed, bare bones implementation.  Says TechCrunch’s MG Siegler:

“But clearly they wanted to be careful. And they’re still being careful. Places is about as bare-bones as a location service can be. It is just check-ins.”

And Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley had this to say:

“It’s pretty much exactly what we thought it was going to be: A pretty simple check-in system that allows you to share your location with friends and do the standard sharing on Facebook. There were no real big surprises.”

Well, I don’t know what these guys are smoking, but I want some too.

Facebook Places lets you check yourself into places.  And it lets you check your friends – more specifically, anybody in your Facebook social graph – into places.

Wait, what?  I can check my co-worker or that creepy guy from the tech meetups that friended me 3 years ago into physical places in the real world?  And this blasts out to THEIR networks?

This is freaking radical.  This is insanely aggressive.  This is as innovative and envelope pushing as anything we’ve seen in geosocial.  And in typical Facebook fashion, it’s default on.

Yesterday, I checked my little brother, who lives in Richmond, VA, into Totally Garlic, an herb store here in San Francisco.  Immediately, I got a text from him and a Facebook comment of “What the hell is this?”

This, my friends, is the forced, ready or not here we come, mainstreamification of the social check-in.

Yesterday, the social check-in was a niche gesture.

Today, it is spreading wildly through the Facebook eco system like a spammy Slide app from 2008 with the full on endorsement from the Facebook mothership.

Kind big brothers, like me, are checking people into garlic stores.  Less kind people no doubt checking people into edgier venues.  And everywhere, people’s aunts and teachers and co-workers and ex girlfriends and spammers with pretty profile pictures are getting a crash course in what happens when you mix social media with the real world.

(As a side note, if you needed a good reason to start ignoring those sketchy friend requests on Facebook, you now have one).

A few weeks back, I wrote a hand wringing post called “Facebook’s Geo Problem” in which I laid out a few reasons why I thought Facebook needed to be careful about their geosocial roll out.

And in typical Facebook fashion, they have damned the torpedoes and fired full speed ahead.

How this will play out is anyone’s guess.

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