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December 31, 2012

Foursquare Tells Users Policy Changes on Way

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Foursquare is making two major changes to its privacy policy, but not without giving its users ample notice.

The check-in service sent an e-mail to its users, informing them the firm is altering its privacy policy. As of Jan. 28, 2013, the service will show only users’ full names, replacing it current practice of allowing a mix of full names and first name, last initial.

“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,” Foursquare said in its e-mail.

“In the original versions of Foursquare, these distinctions made sense. But we get e-mails 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…”

The second change will enable businesses to see an extended list of customers who have checked in on their companies. Foursquare currently permits businesses to see only the past three hours’ worth of check-ins.

“This is great for helping store owners identify their customers and give them more personal service or offers,” the e-mail reads. “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.”

Users who do not want businesses to see when they check in should uncheck the box under location information.

Foursquare has also made available to users an easy-to-understand policy document dubbed Privacy 101.

It appears Foursquare did not wish to follow in Instagram’s footsteps, choosing to allow its users to opt out of the changes.

The photo sharing app, which is owned by Facebook, recently suffered severe user backlash after new privacy policies seemed to accord the service the right to sell users’ photographs without informing or reimbursing the photographer.

Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom did some quick backtracking on the proposed policy changes — within two days Systrom not only apologized but reverted to the old terms of use.

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