During this morning’s Facebook developer conference keynote — which was mostly about augmented and virtual reality and Messenger — the Places Graph was mentioned only in passing. It’s part of the Graph API, and the company has been using its location and places data internally and on Instagram and Messenger for some time.
This is the first time third-party developers will be able to access the data. It’s also free, almost regardless of usage or scale, according to the company:
We’re providing free access to over 140 million places around the world, the same data that powers Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. We’ve created Search, Current Place, and Place Information endpoints, so you can find places relevant to your users and provide helpful information about each location. The Places Graph ties query limits to the size of your customer base and is integrated with the Facebook SDK so that it’s easy to get started and scale quickly.
The offering is probably most directly competitive with Foursquare’s Venues Database, rather than Google Maps API. That’s because there’s no maps UI with Facebook’s Places Graph. However, a developer could marry something like Mapbox and the Places Graph and create something pretty interesting.