Facebook Places UK launch: Things you need to know

The lowdown on Facebook's location-based posting service

Facebook's FourSquare-styled service finally arrives in the UK, but how will it change the social network's mobile offering? Get ready to enter the world of check-ins

Facebook Places, the social networking behemoth's location-based service is now available to UK users.

Its arrival in the US sparked something of an outcry from privacy supporters who felt letting others know where you are at any given moment could turn you into bait for stalkers. But is Facebook's location-specific posting service really as bad as it sounds?

See below for things you need to know about Facebook Places

1/ It brings social networking into the real world
It's all very well speaking to your mates online or liking their status updates, but it isn't as good as meeting up face to face over a drink or two. Facebook Places allows you to do that, keeping track of where your friends are.

2/ It's a recommendation engine
If you spot that someone goes regularly to a certain café, then it's probably because they really like the place – or they fancy the waitress. Places opens up where you live and may offer different places and things to see and do. This is similar to what Foursquare has done, but changed going to places into a game of one-upmanship.

3/ It turns your phone into the main place for Facebook
Twitter's explosive growth isn't just to do with the amount of celebrities using the thing but because it is so easily accessible from a mobile phone. Facebook has gone some way to improving its phone apps, but the service is still primarily looked at on a computer. Places gives the mobile phone version of Facebook a massive USP – it means that there is now a reason to use the social network on your phone as well as your desktop.

4/ Makes bumping into people that little bit easier
It's fair to say that most of us don't actually meet up with the majority of our friends on Facebook. Some may want to keep it that way, but Places is focusing on the ones who wouldn't mind meeting up with real people once every so often. So, if you sign up you will be notified if a person is in a similar area to you. This could also act as a warning if you definitely don't want to meet up with a particular person.

5/ It changes friends into tour guides
If you are going to a place you have never been before and someone on your network has been there, Places allows them to offer travel advice, recommendations and the like.

Read the rest of this feature at TechRadar.com plus a Facebook Places hands-on review