Foursquare Plays Fair and Square
Foursquare should have offered an opt in, argues one activist.
Social media and mobile communications present direct marketers with myriad new opportunities to target customers. They also present them with touchy privacy issues. Instagram learned that the hard way last month after users rebelled when the Facebook-owned service announced it would begin appropriating the photos they post for ads run on the network. Instagram quickly back-tracked, but the damage was done. AppData reported that Instagram's average 16 million daily users dropped by 25% after its announcement, though it still lists Instagram as the No. 1 app based on monthly visitors. (Facebook claimed in news accounts that AppData's numbers were “inaccurate.” )
Foursquare's amended policy will allow it to share more personal information about users. The reviews of and “check-ins” at businesses posted through the app will carry users' full names once the changes take effect on January 28. Currently, those who aren't “friends” of the user get a first name and last initial only. In addition, business subscribers that now get a look at only the previous three hours of check-ins will have that window of opportunity opened.
In its email to users, Foursquare suggests a alternative opt-out on the full name listing, saying, “As always, you can alter your ‘full name' “on Foursquare's settings page. However, it's not clear if this means a user can use an alias or just a variation of his or her real name. The email also says it will give business users “more” access to users' information, but does not specify how much. Several attempts made by Direct Marketing News to contact Foursquare for clarification went unanswered.