My Facebook friends are all over the map. But if you ask me offhand to spell out their locations around the world, I admit I will be befuddled about some of them whom I know virtually. Facebook is now the world’s largest social network with more than 500 million users worldwide. Even if you have a fraction of that geographical spread in your friend list, it really helps to locate them visually on a map.
It’s not just a fun visual fun tool but has some practical uses too. For instance, if you are travelling, you can tell at a glance if anyone you know is located nearby. You can also effectively work out the time zones your friends are located in.
Something like Facebook Places lets you broadcast your own location to the world. But these maps help you to ‘pin’ others down. So for the sake of friendship let these five little Facebook and map mashups help you work out how near or far your friends are to you.
This geographic service (also called Placebook) displays useful information even if you haven’t logged in yet. Hover over an area and see the distribution of Facebook users for that region (e.g. U.S has 42 percent of Facebook members). Logging into the application via Facebook loads the location information from your friends’ profiles if it’s mentioned. You location if absent, is mapped out with your I.P number. All data is neatly mapped out by numbers for specific countries, distance from your location, and a beautiful interlinking display of how your friends are related. You can zoom to a location and directly jump to any friends’ profile. Some calculations like distance or the precise location may be off the mark, but it is a fair representation nonetheless.
My Friend Map [No Longer Available]
This is a mashup which is beautifully rendered in cool blue. The map connects via Facebook’s API to your profile and gives you a view of your network’s location according to the current city information in their profiles. Hovering over the location dots brings up the profile photo and the location information. From the blue map, you can switch over to the regular Google Map with a click.
Where My Friends Be
Where My Friends Be is a much simpler network display on a Google Map. The app grabs your profile picture and geolocates you on the Google Map. Google place markers and straight red lines plot out the location relationship with your friends on Facebook. The mapping is quite fast and in a matter of seconds you can visualize your entire network of friends on a map. If you select the option, your friends map gets posted on your profile.
Friends Density [No Longer Available]
The third-party application presents the relative concentration of your friends as a fullscreen heatmap. Using the Google Maps mashup, you can tell at a glance where they are located around the world. You can click through to your friends’ profile and privacy protection ensures your friends’ data stays protected. The heatmap control panel allows you to set colors as well as choose between ‘spectrum’ or ‘thermal’ views.
OpenHeatMap [Broken URL Removed]
Give this app permission to pull in data from Facebook and in a few seconds, the map displays a heatmap where your friends are concentrated. Bright reds are for regions where they are in greater numbers. Lesser concentrations are shown by yellow and blue. You can zoom in to more precise spots on the map. Mouse over the heat map to see the names pop up; these are clickable to their individual profiles. The map does not seem to be absolutely accurate because it missed my network of friends in Australia.
Placing your friends on a map can give surprising results. In fact, just last year there was a project where Facebook intern Paul Butler plotted out ‘human relationships’ using Facebook’s data on 10 million pairs of friends. The result came out in the form of a detailed world map. You can read about the project and agree with me that virtual or not, we are all connected somehow.
Try out these Facebook map mashups and let us know what you think of them.