Foursquare is a hot new phone app, but many are concerned about falling victim to a foursquare stalker. Foursquare is a new social networking application for smart phones that is location aware through GPS. With foursquare you can tell friends your location and track where you have been in real time. Foursquare takes social networking further by adding game elements. When you are at a location, you "check-in" to get points. If you check-in to a location more than anyone else for the week, you become the mayor of the location. You can also add tips about an area and to dos which can help others learn about the location. The app is great if you live in a big city or want to be able to hang out with your friends without having to arrange things ahead of time. It provides for twitter integration to notify others when you are out and about in real time.
As with most social networking applications, there are privacy concerns. Because you are broadcasting your location information on the internet, it can make you susceptible to a foursquare stalker. With foursquare you are not only sharing information about what you do, but also where you are. You never know who is watching. A stalker or other weirdo could be tracking you without your knowledge. With this information, someone can know when you are away from your home, your present location or your typical hang outs. Fortunately avoiding falling victim to a foursquare stalker is a matter of common sense.
- Opt out of information sharing. New users are opted into the information sharing by default. Information sharing makes your email and phone numbers available to your foursquare friends. Your real friends already know your contact information so hiding your personal information should make no difference. By opting out of information sharing, you are preventing any casual foursquare friends from finding learning your contact information.
- Don't use the same user name with foursquare and other social media accounts or link to other social networking accounts. By linking your foursquare account with other online accounts like linkedin, you are revealing your real name and other personal information. By the same logic, you should not use your real name as your user name.
- Use off the grid check-ins. Foursquare allows you to check-in without giving your exact location. This is called going off the grid and it is a simple setting within the foursquare. Many people check in off the grid by default.
- Never check-in at home or work. It is too easy to figure out who a person by their home or work location. Your friends already know where you live or work. Besides who wants to be the mayor of their work?
- Add friends carefully. Foursquare friends can see all of your information, so select your friends wisely. You are essentially inviting them to meet up with you every time check-in. In the same vein, remove the foursquare connection to people who you no longer consider your friends. That ex that keeps on bothering you is a good case in point.
- Check-in as you are leaving a location. Unless you explicitly want to meet up with your friends by checking in, there is no harm in checking in just before you leave. You will still get credit for the check-in. But before a foursquare stalker will arrive too late based on your check-in.