In the 1986 movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” the title character creates a series of elaborate ruses to deceive his family and teachers into thinking he stayed home sick from school. But Bueller doesn’t stay in bed convalescing; he spends the day cavorting and getting into various flavors of trouble across Chicago with his school buddies.
His cover is blown when he’s shown on television at a Chicago Cubs baseball game. (Back then, the Cubs played only daytime home games, and it was a favorite place for workers and students to play hooky.)
Fast forward to today, the second day of Facebook’s new "Places" feature that lets Facebook account holders with certain mobile phones broadcast their location to their friends. I tried it for the first time this morning while watching the sunrise with my dogs at a local park. I did it out of curiosity. Surprisingly, a friend commented on my location soon after my post went up. He wasn’t at the park, but was also up early.
I plan to check in with Places a few more times to see what other responses it generates. My personal jury is still out on this one.
Places also lets Facebook users check in themselves and their Facebook friends at the same time. This may not be so smart. I suppose some groups of friends who head to a movie or dinner together could save time by having one person check everyone in with a few screen taps. But what if one of those friends is playing hooky or doesn’t want his location announced. What if someone decides to check in a person who isn’t part of the group?
The list of potential issues grows the more I think it through. So I’ve decided to keep control of announcing my location in my own hands.
Turning off the "Friends can check me in to Places" feature takes some steps. Start by clicking on the "account" link on the top right of your Facebook home page. Then click the "privacy settings" link. Here you’ll see your top-level privacy settings and which features you share with everyone, friends of friends or friends only. "Places I check into" is one of these options. Most, if not all, of the settings here should be set to "friends only."
Click the "customize settings" link near the bottom of the “settings” list. This will bring you to about 20 more features for which you can set to varying degrees of privacy. One of these is the "friends can check me in to Places" setting, which has "enabled" as the default setting. Click the box and select "disabled" to turn off this feature. (See screen shot below.)
There is nothing to prevent a Facebook friend from typing in to a Wall post a list of people he’s with. That’s where the friendship part of being a friend comes into play.
For more details about Facebook Places and privacy, visit the American Civil Liberties Union’s dotrights.org site.