According to Facebook, Places is basically about knowing where you friends hang out. From our profiles on Facebook, we all know and share all other sorts of things about each other. But a fundamental thing we would often like to know about other people is “where are you right now?”
Part of the idea behind Facebook Places is the same as with other geolocation services like Gowalla and Foursquare: to create spontaneous meetings. Facebook wants to tear down the walls between getting in touch with each other when you hang out in the park, go to a café or go to an event. By using places, you can get to know what people in your network that are near you and get together.
Another aspect is the fact that when you share your location, you leave a trail of experiences to your digital identity and to the places you have checked in at. Digital and real life experiences will become intertwined in the sense that others who visit the same places as you have been, can become inspired or add something to their experiences, making places more social.
It all sounds very promising, but it will probably still take a while before the effect of Facebook Places will be really powerful. I am not sure whether or not Facebook Places will eventually overrule other services like Foursquare and Gowalla or how powerful geolocation will be. Also Places will become an interesting platform for marketing efforts, like for instance location specific ads. With more than 500 million users on Facebook and 4.6 billion mobile phones on the planet, it will be interesting to see where it will bring us in the future. Within the coming years, geosocial functions will likely become an integral part of our lives, as more and more people get smart phones, tablets and cameras with in-built GPS data to track our lives.