Facebook PlacesFacebook has officially joined the GPS, location-based, “check-in” game.  With the announcement of Facebook Places yesterday, users can now share information of their whereabouts as well as connect with nearby friends.  It’ll be interesting to see how this impacts both foursquare and Yelp who are also competing for customers in this location game.

Since Facebook recently surpassed 500,000 users, they clearly have the advantage over competing services.  It would seem natural that social media enthusiasts are looking for a convergence of all these features – and not have to jump from one platform to another.  Perhaps Facebook should look to acquire foursquare and simply aggregate the existing data and comments into their system?

Location features can create tremendous value for small businesses.  With just a few favorable reviews and recommendations, viral marketing can generate a wave of new customers.  It helps new prospects discover places that they would otherwise never know.

On the other hand, are GPS signals revealing too much information about people?  Is this big brother zooming in on us?  Are we compromising our privacy?

I’ve downloaded the latest Facebook app for the iPhone.  While the Places icon is visible, it doesn’t appear the service is available yet in Buffalo, NY.  We’ll be watching closely!

What are your thoughts?  Will these location features help advance Facebook and small businesses or will this create new privacy and security concerns?   Is Facebook Places sensible?