Laws of Check-Ins & Facebook Places doesn’t have to be Spammy

There’s an inverse corollary I’m proposing regarding Geo-Location: the fewer friends that you have, the greater the value of a Geo-location notice from a friend and in your socialgraph. The more friends that you have, the less value your check-ins are to that larger group. There are a lot of dynamics to support this hypothesis including why people follow/friend, what more centralized networks suggest, etc.

Here’s another part to my axiom-in-the-works:  The larger your network, the greater metadata value your check-in may have and the smaller your network, the less metadata value your check-in may offer (unless millions of small-node networks are at work with the same behaviors, etc.). So if a celebrity checks into a place, it may bode well for that place’s popularity and relevance. If one of my friends checks into the taco truck down the road, maybe not so much value unless a hundred people like him do the same.

With these thoughts in mind, I needed to quiet down my check-ins on Facebook, Foursquare and Gowalla so that my socialgraph, twitter stream and other networks aren’t overwhelmed with irrelevant data. In Foursquare and Gowalla I rarely “shout” my location out to my followers in that network and even less often will allow that check-in to leak out to Twitter or Facebook. Both services have done a good job of making that behavior opt-in versus default to protect users from unintentional location announcements.

FB Places ExampleIn Facebook, you can also quiet down your Places activity. On your home or profile page, access the “Account” pull-down in the upper right corner (see image). Go into Facebook “Account” Privacy Settings (linked here). Check “Custom Settings” and edit “Places” to “only me” and whatever other person/group/etc you want to share with. It’s that complicated and easy at the same time. 🙂 Now you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits of Facebook check-ins of discovering nearby deals, people, events and places without having it show up in your stream as you see in the image here.

Any other tips for maximizing Geo-Location’s utility and value while minimizing its noise-potential?

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