In a nice move to help enhance user privacy, foursquare announced on Friday that off the grid checkins will no longer unlock badges or earn mayorships. They will, however, still count toward the checkins required for those badges or mayorships.
What is an off the grid checkin? Each time you check in, foursquare gives you the option to share it with your friends. If you choose “no,” you’ll be checked in “off the grid.” Your friends won’t be able to see where you are, but it will still show up in your history. It’s a great tool for people who use foursquare to track the places they go, but don’t necessarily want to share them all with their friends. It could be that you’re on a date or checking in at your child’s school, or some other location you don’t want to be public.
Previously, these checkins could unlock badges or award mayorships even though they were meant to be private. If you’re checking in off the grid at your child’s school for privacy reasons, for instance, the last thing you want is to earn the mayorship and have it show up on the school’s venue page or your own profile page. You could resign the mayorship, but it’s there for everyone to see until you get to a desktop computer to remove it.
With the new rules, those off the grid checkins will still count toward the mayorship or any badges you could earn, but will only award them if you choose to make a public checkin at some point in the future.
What do you think of the change? Is it a good move for privacy?
UPDATE (1/31/11): Foursquare has changed their policy again. Off the grid checkins can now unlock badges but not mayorships.