Foursquare Delivers a Decisive Blow to Stalkers

Karly Gaffney is a Manager on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group.

Karly Gaffney is a Manager on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group.

This week foursquare announced API changes to eliminate privacy concerns and creepy stalker apps like Girls Around Me. So, what are they changing? Foursquare is removing the ability for users to see people (even those not on their friends list) who are checked in to a venue without being checked in to the same venue themselves. Akshay Patil (foursquare API evangelist) explains it further: “much like how the users could see each other by looking around in real life.” Users will still be able to see friend check-ins regardless of whether they’re checked in to the same venue or not.

Creepy apps like Girls Around Me (which got a lot of buzz in March) leverage foursquare data to display a list of people (strangers) who are checked in nearby filtered by gender. The API change will essentially render these apps worthless because users will only be able to see their friends.

GAM shot Foursquare Delivers a Decisive Blow to Stalkers

On the flipside, eliminating this data also affects the less-creepy apps like Sonar or Banjo that connect strangers based on location, particular interests or mutual friends. Sonar leverages data from multiple networks including foursquare, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to suggest people nearby you should connect with, based on interests and/or mutual friends.

sonar grab Foursquare Delivers a Decisive Blow to Stalkers

Banjo uses data from Twitter, foursquare, Instagram and others to display where people are and what they’re saying or doing based on check-ins or tweets, not interests.

banjo grab Foursquare Delivers a Decisive Blow to Stalkers

The foursquare API change will be implemented in June to allow time for the less-creepy app developers to make some changes. The negative impact will be low for these developers, considering many of them use multiple platforms and are not 100% reliant on foursquare for data.

I am a big fan of foursquare and consider it a safe service when used properly. This change will make it easier for the cautious non-users to convert and give the application a try.

What do you think? Does this make you feel more secure about sharing your location? Does this make you want to give foursquare a try if you haven’t already?

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