Home One Little Foursquare Privacy Change Now Makes a Big Difference

One Little Foursquare Privacy Change Now Makes a Big Difference

Location based social network Foursquare has quietly released a new feature that allows places user categorize as their homes to be included in the system but not expose their exact addresses. Venues categorized as homes will now show up as a general area on a map, instead of a pin and street number, as restaurants and stores are displayed. The move was first reported by the independent blog AboutFoursquare.

It’s a great little change that will enable users to check in at home without exposing too much information. This new feature will also allow people whose homes were listed on Foursquare against their wishes to easily obscure their addresses. Respecting home/away privacy is a key part of making people feel safe enough to expose their location at all, anywhere. Foursquare’s approach is reminiscent of the new private location geofences Flickr launched earlier this month.

Above: This is probably where Chris from AboutFoursquare lives. Where exactly does he live? I don’t know. It looks nice there, though.

I never turn location on when I’m Tweeting, for example, anywhere – because if I forget to turn it off it shows my exact address when I Tweet from home.

Why would anyone want to check in at their own home on a location-based social network? Perhaps because it’s nice to let your friends know where you’re at – even when you’re nowhere in particular. It’s nice to know when your friends are at home, perhaps after they’ve arrived from a trip far away. (“Welcome home!”) Some people enjoy being the Foursquare Mayor of their homes, too.

I created a Foursquare Venue for my house last summer, but named it after my dogs and never checked in there. I created the venue so that the address was taken, as a placeholder. The idea of someone else creating a Venue titled “Marshall’s house” was not a prospect I relished. Now it’s nice to know that I can tell Foursquare the address, admit I own the place instead of my dogs, but not let the system share the exact address with anyone else.

While most people today will still say they don’t understand why they would use Foursquare at all, this change will likely make some substantial number of people feel more comfortable on the network. It’s just a good, human, considerate thing to do. It’s hard not to think of and contrast this with Google’s hard refusal to allow users of Plus to obscure their personal identities. Strategic blurring of focus is sometimes a very good thing to do.

Below, a video about Flusquare – an interesting mash-up between Foursquare and CDC flu reports. Foursquare integration lets the app determine where you went when you were contagious! This little app hints at the potential of consumer geolocation technologies for the future. Found via Geoposiciona, a very interesting Spanish-language blog about geolocation technologies.

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