Foursquare today put a cap on the number of friends and outstanding friend requests a user can have. Users who are over the limit now get a notification when they try to request a new friendship and the friend request isn’t sent. It appears that more friends can be added for those accounts only if the friendship is requested by the other user.
It’s not clear exactly what the limits are. We’ve received a report from one user that outstanding friend requests for him capped out at 1,020 and our About Foursquare account with 6,000 friends is over the limit for number of friends â€” we’re not even able to follow any more brands. If you’ve run into the limits at a lower number, please let us know in the comments.
Foursquare spokesperson Erin Gleason tells us:
Earlier today, we implemented limits on the number of friends and outstanding friend requests that a user can have. We’re still figuring out what the appropriate limits are and will continue to adjust the numbers based on usage and user feedback.
This move appears to be a direct intervention against businesses using the spammy tactic of trying to request as many friends as possible so their tips are more likely to appear for users when they check in. The tactic topped the list of Mashable’s 6 Ways to Market on foursquare Without a Location, where they featured Bastard Jeans, an account that has racked up 60,000 friends. Users were often frustrated by the random friend requests they’d receive from businesses and brands that were simply trying to gather as many friends as possible, so adding a limit should help to increase the user experience by effectively eliminating that tactic for foursquare marketing.
In a location-based network like foursquare, where friends are typically limited to a tighter circle of friends, marketing in this manner simply didn’t make sense. It’s a good move for users since it decreases the possibility they’ll be spammed by companies, and really only punishes the brands who were taking advantage of the system. Regular users will likely never hit the limits and businesses that have built their networks by letting the user initiate the request â€” as most brands (About Foursquare included) have done â€” should feel no effect.[poll id="16"]