Facebook to Expand Social Graph API to Include Places

Facebook is planning to update its Open Graph API to enhance the ability of developers to integrate location-based data to user’s newsfeeds and posts. Facebook announced its intention to develop this feature at the Where 2012 Conference in San Francisco last week.

The upcoming social graph “place” feature will allow third-parties to push information, offers and messages based on that data. For example, an application could inform you where your Facebook friends are or alert you when you are in the same location. Merchants and promoters could also use the service to deliver location-based offers.

In the same way that Spotify pushes information about what it’s users are listening to onto a linked user’s page, developers will now be able to push place information into users’ facebook page. This could include concert venues, merchant offers such as coupons, or personal location status.

While it is possible to provide similar functions today, once the ‘place’ object is added to the Open Graph API, it will be much easier for third developers to link their location data and perhaps more importantly, to integrate that with other social graph features.

For example, a purchase made at a store, a meal ordered at a restaurant or your attendance at a movie could be passively included as a status update to your Facebook page and shared with your friends.

Facebook already supports location services that allows certain posts and status updates to include place information. However, today the inclusion of location data is pretty much restricted to the facebook interface.

Along with the growing interest and investment in location-based applications are concerns around privacy. Personal location information broadcast via third-party applications could be used by law enforcement or individuals in ways that are not intended by Facebook users.

Just last month the application Girls Around Me, which broadcast personal information about women based on proximity, was dubbed a "stalker" app and provoked not only a consumer outrage but also prompted the app store to pull the application.

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