By Scott Kleinberg, Tribune Newspapers
January 10, 2013
Foursquare users, take note. The geolocation social network that lets you compete for mayorships and learn about trending venues is making a few changes to its privacy that you should know about before your next check-in.
Starting on Jan. 28, your full name will be shown whenever you check in to a venue. Foursquare is responding to what it calls a confusing system where full names are sometimes shown in search results but first name and last initials are shown for check-ins. Now, first and last names will be shown everywhere in an attempt to alleviate that confusion.
There's good news, though. Foursquare says you can alter your 'full name' anytime at https://foursquare.com/settings. For example, my name has never been Scott Kleinberg or Scott K, it has always been @scottkleinberg. So as you can see, I don't have a problem with my name showing up, but you have a choice. If you do nothing, your first and last name will be shown automatically starting on the 28th. You can also update your avatar, profile, email and other information at this screen.
Secondly, Foursquare will allow business owners to see more recent customers.
Right now, a business sees who checked in during the last three hours plus the most recent and most loyal visitors. Now, they'll be able to see more than just three hours worth. Many Foursquare users don't realize that you have always been able to change what a business can see regarding your check-in at https://foursquare.com/settings/privacy.
Specifically, you can uncheck the box that reads "Let venue managers see when I check in to their business, or when I am one of their best customers." Keep in mind that changing this setting could affect whether or not you are rewarded for your loyalty.
Another privacy setting worth confirming is "Include me in the public list of people who are currently checked in at a venue." If you uncheck this box, other Foursquare users won't know where you are. Depending on how much privacy you are comfortable sharing, this is a very useful setting to be on top of.
Interestingly, there has been no angry pushback to Foursquare's planned privacy updates, a stark contrast to the reaction to Instagram's changes last month. I'm confident the reason for that is Foursquare's clear explanation to how the changes affect users, whereas Instagram's changes created more questions than answers.
Checking your privacy settings is the first of our social media resolutions from last week's column, so you shouldn't wait for a company to make changes to its policies to take action.
What questions do you have about social media? Tweet them to @scottkleinberg or @amyguth. We might select yours for use in a future column.