facebook_places_image Far and away the largest presence in the current social media market, Facebook has decided to place it’s sizable hand into the growing area of location-based social media. 

With a thoroughly-blogged-and-tweeted press conference yesterday at their Palo Alto headquarters, Facebook unleashed the newest addition to their social media arsenal, Facebook Places. A service primarily based around showing your Facebook friends where you are and seeing their present locations, Facebook Places follows the massive recent growth of location-based social media services such as Foursquare and Gowalla. Facebook Places functions much like both of those applications, with “check-ins” and tips about nearby locations such as restaurants, shops and services.

The true question from the everyday user (and the media), is whether or not Facebook Places will turn out to be a premature nail-in-the-coffin for Foursquare and Gowalla. The deciding factor may be the new additions Facebook Places makes to the traditional location-based social media experience. For instance, with Facebook Places you could check-in somewhere and then tag the friends that are there as also checked-in. You could view a map of the surrounding area and which friends have checked in nearby. These new capabilities as well as the fact that more people use Facebook than any other social media outlet could mean that Facebook Places could soon dominate location-based applications.

Speaking of, where are Foursquare and Gowalla in all of this? As a matter of fact, they’re right in the middle of it. Facebook Places will totally integrate both services, so that if you already have more mayorships than you can keep track of in Foursquare or Trips you’ve always been meaning to take with Gowalla, they’ll be supported through Facebook Places.

Also, it looks like Facebook may be facing the same central issue as the other two main players in location-based social media: monetization. Although users are submitting mountains of data based around businesses, activities and places, the applications themselves aren’t making money. When asked about this, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company is more focused on the application’s three core components: checking-in, finding your friends, and finding new places-and that they’ll have to “check-in” later about making money.