All of the power of the Internet is in the untrustworthy hands of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. When you are able to recruit such a mass quantity of users around the world, success is inevitable. I salute and envy Facebook for accomplishing that and helping to make the Internet more open and social.
What I will never honor is the company's complete disregard for user privacy, competition, and something less than an oligopoly in certain spaces on the web. In a matter of years, Facebook has managed to shut down a plethora of valuable services through the leveraging of their power and immense userbase.
I could go through the list of startups that they have crushed the dreams of, but not only would it be an endless list, but it would be somewhat off-topic since I began writing this post strictly with the intention to talk about the recently launched Places app within Facebook. For those unfamiliar with it (yea right), it's the new location-based component that allows users to check in to their favorite venues, restaurants, and stores they frequent. Does that sound exactly like the recently successful and innovative applications called Foursquare, Gowalla, etc.? That's because it is.
Shame on Facebook.
There are so many reasons why I will not be checking into anywhere on Facebook anytime soon. Most people are most concerned with privacy, which is evident in the recent burglaries that have popped up in certain areas, but to me... that's a minor concern compared to others.
First and foremost, I am a huge advocate of friendly competition and the leveraging of allies to reach a common goal. If Facebook wasn't so annoyingly hungry to take control of everything on the Internet, their first thought about adapting Facebook to the location space would have been "What service can we make better with the addition of our users?" Or, "How can we team up with an existing platform to create a win-win situation?" Rather than thinking that, the greedy minds of Zuckerberg and his team of genius developers resort to creating their own application in hopes to weed out the little guys trying to make it.
Thankfully, I haven't seen too much usage of Facebook Places during its first month of being live. Additionally, I anticipate that most of the experienced social media enthusiasts in the community will continue to prefer the smaller guys like Foursquare and Gowalla mainly because they feel that Facebook offers them value that's specific and different than a location-based experience.
Will checking in to Places become second nature for Facebook users in several months? Maybe. Let's just hope something changes with their privacy and intentions before we reach that danger zone.