A friend of mine recently made a blog post about using Foursquare. He’s been hesitant to use the app on his phone due to concerns with privacy and having people know your whereabouts. Visit this site for example, http://pleaserobme.com/, which lists your recent check-ins to the public and where you might be. Still, it’s not too difficult to find a person’s home address if you know their full name and region/state or if they have been checking into their home address all along, not something I choose to do or advise anyone do. The purpose of Foursquare, I believe, was to check into events, vendors, and companies, not your home address or route I-95 for example (people create odd check-in locations). To summarize, I see Gordon’s point and understand why many people choose not to use location based geo-tagging ‘fun’ apps. I am a Foursquare user and I do find it fun to earn badges, check into events, stores, and resturants but I still do so sparingly I think. The number one reason I check in using Foursquare is to look for discounts or coupons. Gordon Biersch being one of my favorite spots to save $5 bucks just for checking in. Foursquare, Gowalla, Get Glue, Yelp, and Instagram, all offer valuable services if you don’t mind geo tagging but did you know that it’s really simple to turn geo tagging off or simply hide your check-ins from the public?
Keeping this Foursquare centric, in its current version or release, once you open the app press the Check In button. A list of nearby places will pop up and hopefully the one you want is in the list, if not, it’s quick to create the location yourself. Make your selection and a new screen for that venue opens. Tips are displayed if there are any, the Mayor’s name is displayed (most popular person who checks in), and photos might be available as well. Before you click the ‘Check In Here’ button feel free to add your own tip or photo as it’s encouraged and not used enough in my opinion. On the check in screen you can option to ‘Don’t share with my friends’ by sliding a small grey button over to a ‘padlock’ position. You will easily see this all graphicly. A text pop-up occurs to make it a no brainer. Secondly, uncheck the Facebook and Twitter buttons to ensure your check in is not posted to your Facebook profile or Twitter stream. Lastly, add any text you’d like or a photo (both optional) and click ‘Check In’. You’re done and it’s private. Anyone who wants to see your whereabouts sees an ‘off the grid’ notice.
As a secondary measure it’s a good idea to visit http://foursquare.com, sign-in to your account, and update your profile. you can lock down your account and control privacy for your entire profile which I find quite handy. Many people might be missing out on this step as they download the app and begin using it without ever visiting the website and managing their profiles. Hope this helps someone out there, have fun, and good luck!