Over this holiday weekend Foursquare rolled out some rather large privacy changes that affect all users of the service. The biggest change? The fact that users will now have to display their full name rather than a first name with last initial. This change will occur at the end of January and was released in conjunction with a simpler privacy page, titled Privacy 101.
It seems that Foursquare selected an ideal time to notify users of the change (Saturday night) as this is a large change to the Foursquare ecosystem. It’s important to remember that unlike many social networks, Foursquare is a location-based network and privacy should be a number one concern for the safety and well being of users. Foursquare already shut down the Girls Around Me app that took Foursquare data and mixed with maps so people could see a list of women near by. There has also been the site Please Rob Me that showed every-time a user left their house to go someone else. With the switch to full user names, users may want to think before making public Foursquare check-ins. The exact verrbiage from Foursquare reads:
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.
Additionally businesses will now be able to view more user data. Instead of just the last 3 hours of data, restaurant owners will be able to view “more of those recent check-ins.” As always, users can opt out of showing any data to businesses by updating their location information account settings. The official statement from Foursquare is:
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’ athttps://foursquare.com/settings/privacy.
For more information and to view all of the new privacy changes see Foursquare’s new privacy 101 page.