Dec, 29 2012

Information is one of the most valuable assets in the era of communications. This is the reason why so many internet-based companies strive to get as much information from their users as possible. It is also why many times their services are so affordable (or free) – they get some good cash out of your info. But we tend to draw the line at a certain point, and the best thing any company can do is being transparent about their privacy policy. Foursquare is accomplishing just that by creating their “Privacy 101” page.

This is an easier-to-read version of their full Privacy Policy. It is shorter and explained in a much simpler tone, making it simpler to go over and understand. But a brief, simpler read won’t exactly make people happy. Foursuare is planning to update their privacy policy, and your information won’t exactly be becoming more private.

Starting January 28, Foursquare will be changing two main things: your full name will be displaying your full names and businesses will see more of their customers’ info (for more than 3 hours).

1. We will now display your full name. Currently, Foursquare sometimes shows your full name and sometimes shows your first name and last initial (“John Smith” vs. “John S.”). For instance, if you search for a friend in Foursquare, we show their full name in the results, but when you click through to their profile page you don’t see their last name. In the original versions of Foursquare, these distinctions made sense. But we get emails every day saying that it’s now confusing. So, with this change, full names are going to be public. As always, you can alter your ‘full name’ on Foursquare at https://foursquare.com/settings.

2. A business on Foursquare will be able to see more of their recent customers. Currently, a business using Foursquare (like your corner coffee shop) can see the customers who have checked in in the last three hours (in addition to the most recent and their most loyal visitors). This is great for helping store owners identify their customers and give them more personal service or offers. But a lot of businesses only have time to log in at the end of the day to look at it. So, with this change, we’re going to be showing them more of those recent check-ins, instead of just three hours worth. As always, if you’d prefer not to permit businesses to see when you check into their locations going forward, you can uncheck the box under ‘Location Information’ at https://foursquare.com/settings/privacy.

People are still hyped up over Instagram’s recent change in their TOS, which would allow them to sell your images for advertising. Instagram/Facebook had to revert to their older TOS to keep users happy, and the social network is even confronting a class action lawsuit. Of course, these changes are not as drastic as Instagram’s.

We would go as far as giving props to Foursquare because there is a solution for every possibly negative change. You can simply edit your full name if you don’t want it readily available to everyone, or stop businesses from seeing your information by simply checking a box under the Location Information section. Foursquare is handling privacy concerns much better.

If you want to give the privacy policy a quick read, you can go ahead and check out their Privacy 101 page. It is not really much shorter than the regular Privacy Policy document, though, so I would spend a few more minutes and get more informed. That is if I were that worried – by now we should all understand that using all these services comes with a price. After all, Google probably knows more about us than most of our friends and family do.

But what do you guys think? Are these upcoming Privacy Policy updates something to worry about?

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