August 18, 2010

Location Sharing Is Coming to Facebook

Facebook is expected to unveil on Wednesday a new location-sharing feature for the social network's 500 million users. Reports about Facebook developing a location-based feature have been circulating for some time. Facebook has also been making references to a potential location feature. In March, Facebook said it had some ideas for about adding new location features that would go beyond just sharing your location in a Facebook update or wall post.

But despite all the rumblings about location, Facebook has yet to unveil such a service. In fact, it's unclear if location really is what Facebook plans to discuss at its upcoming press event.

However, a "multitude" of anonymous sources have reportedly told All Things D's Kara Swisher that geo-location is definitely on the docket for Wednesday.

Details are scarce about what Facebook's new location service would be like, but it's likely the main way you'd share your location would be through your mobile device.

News that Facebook may be getting into the location game has many wondering what the implications will be for location-sharing services such as Foursquare and Gowalla.   Both services use your mobile device's GPS feature to share your location with your friends when visiting cafes, bars, malls, and other public places. Sharing your location is known as a check-in, and users typically earn points, virtual rewards and other incentives that encourage frequent check-ins.

Foursquare has been the most aggressive location service in recent months among location services. The company has signed deals with Bravo television, registered more than 100 million check-ins, and encouraged small business owners to reward their Foursquare mayors -- the person who has checked-in the most at a particular location using Foursquare -- with happy hour specials, retail discounts, giveaways and other prizes.

Despite their burgeoning popularity, it's unclear whether smaller location services would remain popular if Facebook (with its 500 million-strong membership) got into location sharing. However, recent rumors suggest Facebook's location feature would somehow integrate with existing location services.

It's only one day until we know for sure what Facebook has in store for its users. Facebook's press event is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time on Wednesday, August 18.

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