Facebook tosses creepy Place Tips beacons at stateside retailers

Bluetooth and location turned on? Then watch out, sucker shopper!

Facebook has begun dishing out "free" beacons to retail outfits in the US, just in time for an update to its eerie Place Tips technology, which is now being deployed across the country.

The Yelp-like service kicks into life when a Facebook user's location-tracking is set to the default 'on' mode and their mobe has Bluetooth enabled.

As The Register reported in January, Place Tips uses GPS, cell towers and Wi-Fi networks to feed information about local retailers, firms and attractions that are nearby to a given Facebooker.

Facebook has promised that its beacon – which some readers with longish memories may consider to be an ill-advised, albeit generic, name – is "designed for privacy".

The Mark Zuckerberg-run company told businesses:

These beacons use Bluetooth technology to send a one-way signal to the Facebook app on your visitors’ phones to help us show them the right information.

The beacons don’t collect any information from people or their phones or change the kind of location information Facebook receives. They’re designed not to disrupt the operation of your Wi-Fi or other equipment.

Only people who have enabled location services on their phone and have Bluetooth turned on will receive Place Tips from the beacon at your business.

Facebook could eventually offer this tech to retailers who want to serve up ads and deals to people who are within the vicinity of their biz, but would rather follow their phone than their nose for a bargain.

The modern world is wonderful, isn't it? ®

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