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Facebook May Unveil New Products Tomorrow, Including Geo-Location Tool

Facebook may launch some new products tomorrow, the Financial Times reports. According to David Gelles, the company "is likely to unveil some features that will help it defend its turf from Google's imminent social networking push."

At the top of the list of features Facebook watchers are anticipating: Places.

Facebook has long been working on some sort of location feature that will let users broadcast their whereabouts to friends. And anticipation has been building for weeks, as leaks trickled out that the Places debut was drawing near.

On PC World, Ian Paul lists "5 Things to Watch For." Will the new tool allow for integration with other location-services like Four Square and Gowalla? Will other sites -- like Meebo, The Huffington Post, and Tapulous -- be able to use the feature? Will there be commercial incentives to share location information? Will it allow for users to review places, and post photos and videos? And lastly, what about privacy issues?

"You can't add a new service to Facebook without talking about privacy, and a feature that can reveal your location would be no exception."

Key questions regarding Facebook's location feature: How easy would it be for users to opt out of the service? Would Facebook location be opt-in or opt-out by default? Will Facebook consider your location publicly available information or encourage users to set their location to public? Also, will Facebook automatically reveal a person's location, or would you have to expressly share your location on a case-by-case basis?

The Wall Street Journal's Kara Swisher says she is "looking forward to seeing what they've got to show off -- which is what the real news is -- and assume it will be in line with Facebook's more conservative and useful design ethos."

In other words, let's hope I don't need to be the mayor of anything to play, and -- given Facebook's privacy woes on many of its feature rollouts -- I am not embedded with a geo-tag at the event so Facebook PR can keep track of me.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Gura
Based in New York, David Gura is a correspondent on NPR's business desk. His stories are broadcast on NPR's newsmagazines, All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and he regularly guest hosts 1A, a co-production of NPR and WAMU.