Facebook Places reaches Australia

The new feature allows Facebook users to "check in" to places

Facebook has launched its 'Places' feature in the Australian market, delivering location functionality to Australian users in a similar manner as existing players Foursquare and Gowalla.

The new feature allows Facebook users to "check in" to places -- such as, but not limited to, businesses, restaurants, pubs and schools -- and share the location with friends or the general public through a profile update. "Facebook Places gives people another way to connect to their friends -- by checking in to share where they are in real time and find new places that their friends have discovered," said the social networking giant in a statement.

The application uses the mapping feature from Microsoft's Bing search engine and presents businesses or places in the area around the user as places to check in to. The user can also add their own if the place and description if it is not already listed as an option.

Once checked into a place, users can view people at the same location, although a user can be invisible to this option and can uncheck it through the privacy settings. Friends can also tag and check-in friends to places if the option is turned on in the privacy settings.

Facebook reassured users that they would have full privacy control, with privacy settings able to be amended through the main website and on the mobile device application. Only a minor's friends would be able to see their Places, even if a minor sets the settings to "Everyone". Who has permission to view Places information is set to a default of friends-only.

Facebook has posted three videos on Places to help users understand the implications and uses of the new roll out: Why Check In?, Controlling your Information on Places and The Facts About Tagging and Places.

The Places application is available through the Facebook iPhone app and on smartphones through touch.facebook.com. Places has already launched in the US, UK, Canada and Japan.