When Facebook launched its Places
feature, it was, for some, just another chink in their online privacy armor. The world's most popular social network is quickly creeping into everything we do and turning our lives into easily digestible status updates. Understandably, there are some who would very much prefer that their personal information, especially their location at any given moment, remain private. If you aren't excited about alerting the Web to the fact that your home is empty, or prefer that your friends and family not be able to track your daily travels, read on for how to turn off Facebook's new location-based functions.
Edit 'People Here Now'
Sadly, Places can't be turned off with one simple action. Instead, it requires that several different options be altered and updated. (This includes prohibiting others from tagging you, a la Foursquare.) Most of the necessary settings can be found by opening "Privacy Settings" from the "Account" drop-down menu in the upper right-hand corner of your Facebook home page. At the bottom of the privacy options, you'll see a "Customize settings" choice. Click it, and, under the first set of options, you'll see "Things I share." Uncheck the box next to "Include me in 'People Here Now' after I check in." Then, from the drop-down next to "Places I check in to," select "Customize," and choose "Make this visible to only me." Back at the "Customize settings" page, under "Things others share," there's an entry for "Friends can check me in to Places." Use the drop-down to select "disable."
Adjust 'Info accessible through your friends'
Changing those settings will protect your location from being visible to users, and will keep friends and family from adding you to Places. But there's still one very important setting to tweak. Back at the main "Privacy Settings" page, head to "Applications and websites" at the bottom-left of the page. Click "Edit your settings," and, next to "Info accessible through your friends," click "Edit Settings." A window of options will pop up. Uncheck the box by "Places I check in to." This will keep applications that you haven't explicitly allowed to use your location from monitoring you.
Fine-tune Location Sharing With Your Friends
Turn off as many of these options as you'd like, but we highly recommend disabling Places under "Info accessible through your friends" if you wish to make limited use of the new feature. Places will actually let you specify the individuals with whom you want to share your location, so you can choose to keep certain folks in the loop. Thankfully, though, by following the above steps, you can stop all of Facebook from stalking you -- a much-appreciated feature.