UPDATE: Foursquare no longer converts popular accounts to celebrity mode. Instead, they recommend setting up a page. It’s a poor solution since you lose your built-up collection of tips and friends, but it’s all we have to work with.
Foursquare tonight has begun converting accounts with more than 1000 friends to “celebrity” accounts. The move is designed to enhance usabilityÂ and increase privacy for the site’s most popular users.
Since foursquare is typically a service where friend groups are much more tightly controlled, foursquare has determined that 1,000 friends is the most any user can have and still maintain simplicity and privacy on the site. Celebrities don’t see follower checkins on their homepage or friends tab, so the clutter is reduced. Additionally, it reduces the number of pings celebrities receive, since they’ll only get them from their friends.
After the conversion, the celebrity user’s first 100 friends are still considered friends. Anything over that number has been converted to “followers,” who can still see the celebrity’s photos, shouts and checkins (if they’re shared with followers), but can’t see or make comments on checkins. Celebrity users can still choose to make anyone they want a friend by visiting their profile and choosing “accept” or by choosing the “add as friend” option from the followers tab.
The initial 100 number seems fairly arbitrary. Unfortunately there’s no way to demote someone from friend to follower, so if there’s someone you’re not particularly close with in those first 100, you’re still stuck with their checkins in your feed.
The move adds a nice extra layer of privacy for these users. When checking in, they’ll see an option to share with friends (as usual) and an extra option to share the checkin with followers. Sharing with friends (as opposed to followers) implies an extra level of comfort when sharing your location.
Overall, this is a nice enhancement for people with large numbers of friends. Foursquare is right to assume that no one can possibly care about such a large number of friends and turning them into followers, a la Twitter, is probably the right way to go.