If you use Facebook, you are now potentially broadcasting your location to your "Facebook friends" or the world. This is not necessarily a Bad Thing, but poses a risk to you if you work in human rights or are involved in activities where you don't necessarily want to share your whereabouts. Note that your location can be made public not only through your own action on Facebook but also by people you have listed as friends on Facebook who might endanger you by for example identifying you on a photo that has been geotagged so other people can find out exactly where and when it was taken. 

The quick and dirty instructions for turning off location sharing are as follows: 

To opt out: go to privacy settings > customize settings>

  • under 'things I share' set 'Places I check in' to 'only me', using the custom option. Disable "Include me in "People Here Now" after I check in" 
  • under "Things others share", disable "Friends can check me in to places"  

LifeHacker provides detailed instructions - and a video - explaining how to turn off Facebook Places

This is just another chapter in Facebook bringing in new features that have obvious utility for consumers and have the potential to revolutionize (and in many ways improve) the way we live and work, but that are not automatically safe.. especially for activists or civil society organizations working in Africa. We should always be careful. If you are concerned, see the following links to blog posts I have written over the last several months.

The Facebook Era of Everyone: African CSOs Should Use Caution!

I feel remorse every time I use Facebook

New RECLAIM PRIVACY browser plugin lays bare Facebook privacy settings

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