August 24, 2010, 3:45 PM — It's hardly practical to believe there are "right" and "wrong" ways to employ social networking services like Twitter or Facebook. However, there are "smart" and/or "safe" methods of use, especially for location-based services (LBS) that identify your whereabouts at a given time, like popular social network/LBS Foursquare.
Foursquare is the latest social-networking-craze, in which users "check in" to the various places they frequent, and attempt to gain more check-ins than friends and other Foursquare users to secure badges, earn points and nab "Mayor" titles for favorite establishments.
Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley says the service already has 2.6 million users and is adding additional "Foursquarers" faster than ever before. With so many new users joining the fray each day I thought I'd share a handful of Foursquare privacy tips to help you understand the risks associated with using the service.
Keep moving for specifics; chances are you'll be glad you did when you learn you've avoided an awkward encounter with an old ex or annoying "Friend-of-a-Friend."
(For more Foursquare tips and best practices, read "Foursquare Makes It Harder to Unlock Badges" and "How to Unlock Secret Foursquare Badges and Reduce Privacy Risks".)
You can check-in to any Foursquare venue and still collect points/etc. without ever showing your specific location to Foursquare friends--or anyone else. These "off-the-grid" check-ins are great for when you want to gain Foursquare points or increase your number of check-ins at a given venue, but don't want to be surprised by anyone you know dropping in.
To check in off-the-grid, simply use a Foursquare mobile application--available for BlackBerry, iPhone and Android on Foursquare.com--locate the venue you wish to check-in to, select it for check-in and then either choose "No" or unselect the check-box next to "Tell my friends."
Your location and check-in information will then be displayed to Foursquare friends only as "Off the grid."
Delete Mayorships at Venues You Frequent
You may constantly check in to a venue or establishment, but for whatever reason, you don't want to be a "Mayor," since the title can be seen by anyone who views that venue on Foursquare.com--not just your friends.