Facebook Places: Marketing tool or educational asset?

Shel Israel, author of two books on social media and a social media consultant to businesses and corporations, credited Facebook for making Places an “opt-in” feature. But a student who allows a large Facebook community of friends to track his or her foray through a local downtown area could be inviting trouble.

“That’s a red flag of danger, and messages like that go up all the time,” said Israel, whose latest book, Twitterville, hit bookshelves in September 2009. “It can create dangers that need to be remedied.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California released a statement just hours after Facebook Places was unveiled, criticizing the company for making it easy to opt in to the application, while a member would have to delve into his or her Facebook privacy controls to opt out of the program.

“Places allows your friends to tag you when they check in somewhere, and Facebook makes it very easy to say ‘yes’ to allowing your friends to check in for you,” the statement said. “But when it comes to opting out of that feature, you are only given a ‘not now’ option (a.k.a. ask me again later).”

Coomer said the large wooden Facebook Places logos wouldn’t be a mainstay on the Lexington campus. They might not even survive a big sporting event.

If the Kentucky basketball or football teams pull off a big win and spark a rowdy celebration, “they will probably all be ripped to pieces, and that’s the give and take I guess,” Coomer said. “We’re not looking for those to be there forever.”

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