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Facebook Adds To Location Check-In Services With Hot Potato Acquisition

Move could signal more aggressive competition against FourSquare and Gowalla check-in sites

launching its "Places" location-based service

Hot Potato, based in Brooklyn, N.Y., disclosed its acquisition by Facebook in a blog posted late Friday. The blog did not disclose the acquisition price.

Hot Potato's mobile application let's users write sentences such as "I'm eating at..." or "I'm watching..." and the site finds people who are doing similar things. The online groups can communicate, share ideas and exchange photos.

"If Hot Potato was going to sell to anyone, Facebook was the natural choice," said the blog posted by "The Hot Potato Team." The site already provided links to Facebook so that Hot Potato users could tap into their Facebook logins to search for friends. Users also could push their updates to their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The blog said the site will no longer be accepting new user registrations and will be offering current users a way to download their information. The site is expected to shut down and delete all user data in about a month and no user or account information will be transferred to Facebook

Facebook Places lets users "check in" from certain locations using their Facebook account. While that would seem to put Facebook in direct competition with such check-in sites as FourSquare and Gowalla, Facebook Places works in conjunction with those sites. But the acquisition of Hot Potato could give Facebook an edge should it decide to take a more independent path and compete with those sites.

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