Facebook 'Places' not available in many places

Facebook rolled out its much-ballyhooed "Places" feature Thursday to compete against FourSquare, but users from Phoenix to Washington, D.C, complained that they can't access the service in their "Place."

Places is supposed to be available on the iPhone Facebook application, and by navigating to Facebook on the browser of other mobile phones. Intending to test out the service, I updated the Facebook app on my iPod Touch, clicked the new Places icon and received the following message: "This feature will be available in your region soon. Thank you for your patience." (I'm in Framingham, Mass.)

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Just to make sure this wasn't a problem solely related to the iPod Touch, I walked across the office to see a colleague who owns an actual iPhone, and we confirmed that the application is not available in our "region" on either device.

I also can't access Places on my Motorola Droid. I'll get to that later.

I did a Google search for the error feature and found that a Facebook discussion has already popped up titled "Places -- This feature will be available in your region soon."

"Is Places available in any region right now?" one user asked. "Anyone know of their scheduled rollout to regions? Anyone know what the Facebook definition of a region is?"

Other users reported that Places is not available in Salt Lake City; Lake County, Ill.; Virginia; Washington, D.C.; and Phoenix, Ariz.

"Kudos on generating interest in a feature that is not even available to most," one user wrote.

"Same error in Washington DC. You'd think they'd have DC added by now!!" said another.

Users are also reporting troubles accessing Places on Android phones.

A Facebook FAQ on Places promises that "At this time, the Places application is available to users in the United States with mobile access to the Facebook application for iPhone or touch.facebook.com."

Using my Motorola Droid, I navigated to this site but found that the Places feature is not available yet. Other users of Android phones are reporting the same problem. Just for fun, I used the browser on my iPod Touch to visit the Facebook site (as opposed to using the iPod's Facebook app) and also could not find the Places feature.

A post on TechCrunch says Facebook is testing the feature to make sure its servers can handle the load, and that it should be available to many or most users within a day or two.

A Network World inquiry to Facebook this morning has not been answered yet. We'll update later if we receive more information.

Follow Jon Brodkin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jbrodkin

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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Tags smartphonesinternetMotorolaGoogleFacebookwirelessNetworkingsocial networkingsoftwarePhonesconsumer electronicsInternet-based applications and servicesFacebook Places

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