Facebook Places lets the world know where you are

Facebook's made it easy for its half a billion customers to connect virtually. Now, the social networking site's helping with face-to-face connections.

Facebook's new 'places' feature automatically puts the word out when a user checks in via cellphone from a given location. All of their facebook friends will know. It's territory pioneered earlier by such websites as Foursquare and Gowalla. But with Facebook, there is a hitch as Wilson Rothman, tech editor of Msnbc.com explains, "If you want your friends to see where you are in a particular place, you have to also let strangers see where you are."

That's because if your locale has a facebook "places" page, your presence will be noted there too...for any facebook client to see. Facebook friends can also check you in---whether you know it or not---unless you adjust your privacy settings to prevent it.

Facebook users can choose to skip the "places" feature all together. The company's made it an opt-in offering, but for some, that's easier said than done.  It means navigating the site's multiple privacy settings, but for 'Facebook', "Places" represents a potential new revenue generator for advertising, and for clients, it's the latest twist on socializing.