Last month you may have noticed that there was a little bit of a frenzy going on around town. It was April 16th, and it was unofficially dubbed Foursquare Day (4/16, four squared, get it?). Businesses opened their doors for celebrating, and offered killer deals to those who “checked in” at their business through Foursquare, the latest trend in online networking.
Foursquare is so new that many people have no idea what it is. Basically it’s a networking site that allows you to show other people where you have gone during the day. A person “checks in” at each locale they have visited. If they have visited a place more often than anyone else, they become the “mayor” of that business or area and earn a badge. There are badges for all sorts of different levels completed on Foursquare, encouraging people to continue checking in so that they can be awarded more and more badges. You can imagine that having Foursquare is especially convenient on a smartphone as you can check in immediately anywhere you are at. It will even map it for you, and map different check-in points close to you. This is good news for businesses that want to get their name out there, and convenient for someone looking for something to do around town and want to know what’s in the area.
But this is bad news for safety, and it seems to be a potential for stalkers and other predators to be able to choose their victims that much easier. This not only raises concern for adults, this is especially alarming for children who have smart phones and are letting the world, and even just those they have friended (which, you know, aren’t always people they know in real life), know where they are. Sure, this is a convenient way for anyone to let their friends know where they are in case their friends are in the area. But they are also letting strangers know where they are, or where they frequent.
And beyond safety, this is a great way to annoy your friends. On 4/16, I checked in at 5 places. And my friends finally questioned why I was broadcasting the fact that I was getting gas. In my daughter’s words (verbatim from Facebook): “y do u need to tell everyone where u r??? grown ups are weird. they just wanna b stalked.”
What is your take on Foursquare?
Alright, I officially feel old now. I saw the heading ‘Foursquare: Fun? Or dangerous?’ and was all ready to go into a tirade about parents bubble-wrapping their children and how the best games are a little dangerous, and how hard can one of those red rubber balls really hit you, anyway? (Or was it the yellow ones?) …but then I started reading and, despite the fact that I fully support days based on math puns, I realized that you were not talking about parents’ concern over playground antics.
I have to say, just to throw my two cents in, ’cause I never do THAT…a piece of software that tracks your movements and posts updates of exactly where you are is just…a bad idea. I mean, if someone finds out that their movements are being tracked in a movie or tv show, it is the cause for great drama and usually No Longer Trusting Anyone…yet people are volunteering for it? For adults I think it is a bad move, opening them up to stalkers and burglary, for children, a dangerous, dangerous thing to include in their phone software.
My concern isn’t so much that you will be stalked and followed through foursquare, the problem I have with it is based on real problems my husband has had to deal with as a police officer.
I know quite a few adults that use the foursquare feature, and what they don’t realize is that foursquare is like putting up a gigantic neon sign saying, “We are not at home right now! Feel free to go and rob our house!” You should never advertise that you are not at home, or even worse, that you are on vacation, or somewhere far enough away that people know you won’t BE home for a while. Even if you have your privacy features on, this is still posting on the internet that you are not at home, and no matter how good your “privacy” features supposedly are, you need to always be aware that ANYTHING you post on the internet could possibly be seen by people you don’t want to see it. NOTHING on the internet is “private”.