Arun Stephens

Is the international Facebook Places launch imminent?

I hadn’t checked into my home office with Facebook Places for a few days, so I decided to fire up the proxy server and check in tonight. I was pleasantly surprised as what I found.

It appears that a lot of local landmarks (bridges mostly, and the Battersea Power Station) have been added to the Facebook Places database. Does this mean that Facebook have been busy populating their database, ready for the launch? Or has some other geek gone and added all these landmarks just for fun?

I’m guessing the former. Where did Facebook source these locations from? Wikipedia. The descriptions (and titles) match articles on Facebook, which has been geocoding articles for a few years now. Facebook has been using Wikipedia content for some of its “community” Pages since their launch at F8 earlier this year.

Conspicuously on my list is a pub, the Calf, which is about a mile away. Someone has checked in there already, which suggests that I’m not the only one in the area who’s been experimenting with Places.

But back to the Battersea Power Station. Currently, already 129 people like the power station. But none of them have checked in. This suggests that Facebook may well just be converting location-based Pages into Place Pages.

Central London has the same places that I noticed last time, but a few more people seem to have checked into their offices, and Broadcasting House is now listed. Further north (by 0.1 degrees) Ally Pally is there. To the east, we’ve got the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Spitalfields.

Further afield, if I put the Wikipedia-provided coordinates of the Beehive in Wellington, the only nearby place is the City to Sea Bridge, complete with Wikipedia description.

So it doesn’t look like anything international-specific is happening with Facebook Places, just that they are now beginning to add places from other sources to their database. But you never know, maybe the feature will go live soon!