Facebook is expected to give details of new location services later today, giving a big boost to its advertising strategy.
It’s been an open secret for months that the company is working on something similar to the features provided by Foursquare and Gowalla, allowing users to share their location and find friends nearby.
Indeed, the company attempted to buy Foursquare earlier this year.
While adding location features would be a nice little add-on for users, it could be a big money-spinner for Facebook, as it would give the owners of retail stores, for instance, the ability to target customers on their doorstep.
As many as 100 million people access Facebook from a mobile device, making them potential users.If, as expected, the announcement comes this afternoon, Facebook may need to brace itself for another row over privacy. Users are touchy enough as it is about the amount of information that has been made public.
And there must be plenty of the company’s 500 million users who wouldn’t necessarily want all their friends and family to know where they are at any given moment.
The company will presumably make it easy for mobile users to opt out of the service. Back in March, it raised the topic on the company blog, and promised, “As we finalize the product, we look forward to providing more details, including new privacy controls.”
An announcement wouldn’t necessarily sound the death knell for Foursquare. The odds are that Facebook would allow the integration of third-party services.