Hot Potato officially lands in Facebook's lap

Acquisition is the most recent development in Facebook's efforts to juice up the location-based aspect of its hugely popular service.

Hot Potato, an online "check-in" service that lets users report their whereabouts and activities to friends, announced on Friday that it had been acquired by social-networking behemoth Facebook.

The deal, which has been talked about for several weeks , is the most recent development in Facebook's efforts to juice up the location-based aspect of its hugely popular service, which lets people connect with friends and family via the Web and share thoughts, links, photos, and more.

On Wednesday, Facebook unveiled Places , a feature that enables Facebook account holders to advertise their current location to friends, and lets users of check-in sites such as Foursquare post such location-based reports to those sites and to Facebook at the same time.

In its announcement, Hot Potato didn't give any financial details of the buyout. Figures tossed around during earlier, and ultimately fruitless, buyout talks between Facebook and Foursquare were in the neighborhood of $120 million to $140 million, but at this point it's anyone's guess as to whether such figures are apropos to the Hot Potato acquisition.

Hot Potato said it was no longer accepting new registrations for its service and that it would give current users some time to download the information they'd posted to Hot Potato, should they want to preserve it in some way. The service also said that in about a month, it would shut its doors and all user data would be deleted, and not automatically passed on to Facebook. The company said it would keep current users posted until then.

Location-based check-in services have been generating buzz for some time now, with services like Hot Potato putting a new spin on pioneer Foursquare's initial model, where friends share their neighborhood secrets, hotspots, and insider tips with one another. One service, GetGlue, encourages users to report on the books they're reading, movies they're watching, and music they're listening to. Last month, GetGlue announced a partnership with HBO whereby GetGlue would reward consumers of HBO media products by enabling them to collect HBO-themed "stickers" for their devices (a gimmick presumably modeled on Foursquare's similar "badges" program). Foursquare says its users can get discounts at establishments they frequently visit--and just as frequently tout to friends.

 

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