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Foursquare changing privacy policy to display full names and show more customers who check-in

News by Andrew Kameka on Monday December 31, 2012.

software news · andrew kameka

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Foursquare had a big 2012. The company transitioned its app from being all about check-ins to being check-ins and local recommendations, and it added an additional 15 million members this year. More information on those millions of people, and all others who use Foursquare, will become visible in 2013.

Foursquare has sent email notifications to its users that the company will revise its privacy policy on January 28, 2013. Under the new terms, Foursquare will display a user's full name as John Smith rather than a first name and last initial like John S. It will also permit business owners to see more users who recently checked-in to their venue.

In an effort to avoid the backlash Instagram faced for poorly communicating its privacy policy revisions, Foursquare has updated its Privacy 101 page to make clear how the changes will affect users. The new policy is unlikely to garner much protest because Foursquare users have always sacrificed a degree of privacy by choosing to publicly or privately share their location through the mobile app. The new policy will display a user's full name, but you can post an alias to keep your full name private, and extends the period that businesses can access information that they already saw. There's also a way for users to opt-out of being visible to businesses.

Here's the full text of the key changes being made to Foursquare:

1. We will now display your full name. Currently, Foursquare sometimes shows your full name and sometimes shows your first name and last initial ("John Smith" vs. "John S."). For instance, if you search for a friend in Foursquare, we show their full name in the results, but when you click through to their profile page you don't see their last name. In the original versions of Foursquare, these distinctions made sense. But we get emails every day saying that it's now confusing. So, with this change, full names are going to be public. As always, you can alter your 'full name' on Foursquare at https://foursquare.com/settings.

2. A business on Foursquare will be able to see more of their recent customers. Currently, a business using Foursquare (like your corner coffee shop) can see the customers who have checked in in the last three hours (in addition to the most recent and their most loyal visitors). This is great for helping store owners identify their customers and give them more personal service or offers. But a lot of businesses only have time to log in at the end of the day to look at it. So, with this change, we're going to be showing them more of those recent check-ins, instead of just three hours worth. As always, if you'd prefer not to permit businesses to see when you check into their locations going forward, you can uncheck the box under 'Location Information' at https://foursquare.com/settings/privacy.

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Andrew Kameka
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.

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