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Foursquare and Privacy Concerns

March 19, 2010

I have been using Foursquare for a couple months now and it has actually become routine for me to ‘check in’ whenever I go somewhere. If you’re new to Foursquare, there is a post just for you. It really is a fun application, especially when you have your friends participating with you! I recently got married and while my friends were here for the wedding, we were Foursquaring all over the place. Then, when my husband and I honeymooned in Hawaii, it was especially fun to ‘check in’ all over the island, and I even became mayor of a couple places! I was surprised that many of the places I checked into were already created, which indicated to me that many people are participating in Foursquare. It’s great to know that the app is growing rapidly!

There have been concerns about privacy on Foursquare, and I did some further digging and found that Foursquare does not show your whereabouts or the history of check ins on your public profile. Sure you can publish your Foursquare check ins on Twitter so anyone who isn’t on Foursquare can see where you are, but it is optional.

Some of my personal tips to being more careful when using Foursquare include:

  • Don’t put the exact address if you decide to create a check in spot for your home. If you live in an apartment complex or a community, use that as your check in spot. Even though your location is pinpointed, it does not reveal your exact whereabouts, but a general area.
  • Don’t become friends with people you don’t know. Foursquare is a lot fun with your friends anyway!
  • Adjust your Privacy settings. I’d uncheck the box that allows to show your name in the ‘Who’s here’ list when checked in, so those who aren’t linked with me on Foursquare can see I am actually there.
  • You do have the option to check in and not reveal your whereabouts. When you check into a place, you have a choice to tell your friends, or not tell them. You can simple turn that option off and you will show as [Off the grid]. But in my opinion, I’d use this if you really want to be private about a specific place, but if you’re at a place where a lot of people are, I’d share, such as a baseball stadium, or theme park.

What do you think? Do you have any tips about being more cautious when using Foursquare, or even any general tips not outlined here?

And here is TenGoldenRules’ Foursquare page if you were curious! You’ll see yours truly is currently the mayor. 🙂