It’s clear that foursquare has seen the erosion of user trust among Facebook users as that service rolled out obscure privacy settings and made it more difficult to keep their information private. Today they’ve rolled out changes to their privacy settings and posted some detailed explanations that make it clear they’re serious about protecting user privacy.
Much has been made lately of foursquare’s “stalker problem,” but the truth is that your foursquare checkins are only visible to people you’ve specifically added as friends, unless you choose to share it with a public network like Twitter. Their new privacy page does a much better job of explaining that so users won’t be caught off guard when someone learns their whereabouts through Twitter or Facebook. A new grid shows exactly where your checkin data is shared and how to adjust the settings. They’ve also added a number of entries regarding privacy to their FAQs.
On your user settings page, you’ll find a new setting that allow you to opt out of mayorships completely, so you’ll never show up as the mayor of a venue (you can still opt out of specific mayorships you’ve earned by clicking the “x” next to the mayorship on your profile page). You also gain more granular control over sharing your phone number and email address and can turn off some of the more annoying automated emails foursquare sent, like mayorship oustings and badge unlocks.
More importantly, they’ve added several notes about user privacy directly to the settings page, where it will be visible to the greatest number of users. For example, the Twitter section now contains a warning about who can see your checkins when you share them on Twitter:
These changes go a long way toward showing foursquare’s strict attention to user privacy and should help to resolve any doubts users may have had about sharing their checkins with foursquare.
What do you think of the new changes?