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?