Home Foursquare Tweaks Its Privacy Settings, Offers Finer Controls

Foursquare Tweaks Its Privacy Settings, Offers Finer Controls

Earlier this year, a website called PleaseRobMe aggregated all of the messages from location-based services like Foursquare, Gowalla and BrightKite, and offered a listing of “all those empty homes out there”. It caused quite a stir and brought an issue to mind that many early adopters weren’t at first concerned with – privacy.

Ever since, privacy has been a topic in the forefront of the location-based services (LBS) arena, and today Foursquare is announcing some more finely-tuned controls for how users share location and contact information with others.

“It seems that a lot of concerns over information sharing on location-based services arise from confusion over what is shared and where it’s shared,” the Foursquare team writes in its blog, “so we’ve put together an explanation of the different ways foursquare uses and shares location information.”

The privacy page gives a quick run-down on how information is shared, but even better than that is the privacy grid, which breaks down information sharing via Foursquare into a number of different scenarios. The grid explains what is shared by default with who and how to adjust that particular setting.

Foursquare has made a number of changes to user settings, allowing users to control whether or not they share their email or phone number with friends, show links to Twitter and Facebook profiles on their Foursquare profile page, show them in the “Who’s here” list and their participation in “Mayorships”. Why are these changes important?

When ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick recently checked-in to the liquor store, just for the points (as he told us later), he unwittingly became mayor at the local purveyor of spirits. When it asked if he wanted to share, he said no, but because he became mayor the service automatically pushed a notification to his Facebook account for all to see. I quickly and jokingly called him a lush, but we were all immediately aware of the implications of the situation. He had intentionally not shared that particular check-in with the Internet at-large, but Foursquare chose to share it anyways. Thankfully, the latest privacy settings give finer granularity in what Foursquare users share with who.

The company’s fireside chat about privacy and tweaking of user settings comes just in time for Facebook’s upcoming launch of its Facebook Places feature, a service many might be weary of in light of past privacy offenses by the world’s largest social network. We have to wonder if Facebook will handle its privacy controls similarly or if we’ll have another opt-out fiasco on our hands.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.