Facebook’s challenge is how to include location on a social network whose primary relationship is friends rather than places. Clearly, they would like check-ins to become much more prevalent in the coming months.
If Facebook were to start from scratch, you would only be able to “check-in” with a business and “liking” wouldn’t exist. Some of the difficulty of understanding Facebook’s recent changes is due to Facebook’s struggling to adapt location-less “liking” to the mobile reality of social networking. Here’s what they did.
Super-short summary of Facebook Location Changes
While you could always check-in with a business on Facebook, the recent update has made this much easier to do so the volume of check-ins should increase substantially. Below is a bit on why they chose to do what they did.
Check-Ins vs Likes: A Brief History
Facebook invented “Liking”, which is “friend-based”. Foursquare invented “Check-ins”, which are “place-based”. Facebook tried to copy Foursquare’s “Check-ins” using a “friend-based” model and didn’t do so well. Here’s why.
A Foursquare check-in is the announcement of a relationship between a user and a business before audience of “regulars” (i.e. people who also visit that place). In contrast, a Facebook Like, is the announcement of the same relationship before an audience of friends (and only friends).
When Facebook copied Foursquare check-ins, they didn’t understand how disruptive Foursquare “check-ins” really were. So they just built “likes with location.” Critically, when you “check-in” on Facebook, only your friends can see your check-in. That means that people who also check-in at a place or people nearby you cannot see your check-in and react to it. Kinda lame.
Because Facebook is saddled with a friend-based model, they have done the best thing they possibly could to acquire location data from users as quickly as possible: integrating location directly into the newsfeed composer.
Does it matter from an engineering standpoint?
From a data perspective, check-ins are the same thing as likes. Both describe a user being related to a business. The key thing is that businesses must be associated with a physical address to be eligible for a check-in.
You can learn more here: http://www.facebook.com/about/location »