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Facebook extends reach to mobile devices

by Kelly MacNeil on November 4, 2010

In an effort to provide its mobile users with a more versatile experience, Facebook announced yesterday that it would be updating several apps on the Android to include the Groups and Places functions. BBC News reports that the popular social networking website also allows users to check-in with their phone and receive deals at businesses ranging from McDonalds to discounts on clothing at the Gap.

The move by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg to make the platform more accessible follows an incredible growth in the number of members who have begun accessing the site from their smartphones. The company now has 200 million mobile users, which is up from 65 million at this time last year. Additionally, mobile users are significantly more active than those accessing the site from a computer.

"What we have seen is you can rethink any product and rethink it to be social. Mobile is a big area of expansion and a huge new space," Zuckerberg said. "Combining those things together brings big opportunities for new companies to be built and for industries to be disrupted."

The updated apps are available for download on both the iPhone and the Android, and American users will now be able to see specific deals when they check-in to a location. Gap, for instance, is offering the first 10,000 customers who use the feature a free pair of jeans, and any subsequent shoppers 40 percent off. Additionally, McDonalds will donate $1 to its foundation for anybody who checks in. The check-in deals feature is expected to be available to users in the United Kingdom shortly.

While including deals with the Places feature may make it more popular, analysts say it raises several privacy concerns. Internet safety expert Larry Magid told the news source that the third parties who develop apps may be inadvertently releasing personal info.

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