Facebook to launch location feature

Social media site Mashable is reporting that Facebook will integrate location-based services into its site later this month. The technology hub is reporting the social network will roll out several new geo-tagging features throughout May.

The new Facebook location features are rumoured to give users the opportunity to 'check into' venues, such as restaurants and bars, through their mobile handsets. It is thought the service will be similar to that offered by location-based games such as Foursquare and Gowalla.

"We are fairly positive that this move will put Foursquare, Brightkite, Gowalla and other location-based services in an uncomfortable position," wrote Mashable author Jolie O'Dell.

"Facebook has the userbase and mainstream adoption to bring location-sharing tools to a huge audience, excluding these newer competitors from the market. And if the company is rolling out features now, that likely means an acquisition is not likely, either."

The move into geo-tagging has implications for brands wanting to capitalise on Facebook's userbase. Fast-food chain McDonalds is rumoured to be the first company to trial the new location feature, offering users the chance to check into a venue and receive offers via the Facebook news feed.

O'Dell speculates that the new feature will put Facebook into competition with Google. Indeed, the search engine recently launched a raft of new local features including location searches and the integration of its social channel, Buzz, into Google Maps.

"Being able to target users geographically as well as demographically gives hyperlocal advertisers an edge and might cut into Google