According to AllFacebook.com, several users have reported seeing a little blue “checkin” button on the page for some events organized through the social network. It would seem to be an expansion to the company’s “Places” system, which Facebook initially promoted as a way to “immediately tell people about that favorite spot,” but which is essentially its own entry into the checkins game led by systems like Foursquare and others as a way to sell more precisely targeted adverts. Places, however, is limited to a list of specific places–a real life location, rather than any sort of “virtual” checkin like those that are beginning to pop up on Foursquare.
Except now, if you’re on the day of a Facebook event that you’ve been invited to and you’re very nearby, then you’ll have the option to check in. For the time being, it’s not clear if it’s available to everyone, if it’s under test or if it’s just been released as a sneaky upgrade.
But what’s this all about? It could be an effort to drive more users to actually use Facebook’s checkins–some rumors suggest the system hasn’t been all that popular since its launch late last year, although there’s been some interest in Places as a system to promote businesses, and strange devices like the inPulse watch have cropped up that let you check in to a Facebook “Place” just by dabbing at your watch which sends a signal to a connected smartphone. The arrival of more and more Facebook phones could also help promote Facebook Places. But perhaps Facebook’s making an early, easy move: Many millions of folk use Facebook to organize their social events (I have three invites sitting on my homepage right now, for example), and by encouraging users to use a checkin under situations like this, Facebook could be hoping they’ll be happier to use it to check in to stores and venues that actually deliver Facebook advertising money.
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