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Revised Foursquare Policy Expected To Benefit Small Businesses

Foursquare, the location-based social networking website for mobile devices, has announced revisions to its privacy policy that are expected to give small businesses more comprehensive information about users who have visited their locations.  The company email to users announcing the changes called them “great for helping store owners identify their customers and give them more personal service or offers.”

The app-based service, which was created in 2009, boasts a community of 25 million people worldwide and more than a million businesses that use its Merchant Platform. “One of the key purposes of Foursquare is to help users learn about businesses, locations, events and brands . . . that are relevant to them, and for these entities to provide information about themselves, their locations and events to users, as well as to reward users when they visit their location or event through offers and specials,” the Foursquare site explains. “When you check-in to a particular location that is a ‘claimed location’, your check-ins are shared with that location in order for it to better provide services to you. Additionally, brands may have access to aggregated and anonymous data, such as anonymized check-in data (that is, not tied to individual users) of users that like their brand.”

Registered Foursquare users can “check in” at establishments via a mobile website, text messaging or a device-specific application. They can also choose to have their location posted on their Facebook or Twitter accounts. Users earn points and badges for each check-in. According to the company website, Foursquare amasses millions of check-ins daily and more than 3 billion since its launch.

Foursquare encourages businesses to use its services to get discovered, engage and reward customers, and monitor foot traffic. It enables businesses to create pages that offer special discounts and freebies to attract new customers and reward loyal ones, and post links to their social media pages and websites.

At the end of 2012, Foursquare’s emailed announcement said that it was changing its privacy policy as of Jan. 28, 2012 to share users’ full names instead just an initial for their surname. Users who don’t want their full name revealed can alter it in their account settings.

Foursquare also revealed that it will give business users more access to a detailed overview of visitors who have checked in throughout the day, including how many times a user has checked-in at a given location if they are one of the ten most frequent visitors. Although not specific about how large this new “window of opportunity” will be, Foursquare had previously given participating businesses just three hours to view check-ins. Users who prefer that businesses not know when they’re checking can uncheck the appropriate box under “Location Information” in their settings.

“Privacy 101”, a simplified version of Foursquare’s privacy policy for those who like to cut through the legalese, is available on its website.

Written By

Beth Longware Duff of is a professional editor and award-winning writer whose work on a wide variety of topics has been published in print and electronic media. She currently writes on a wide range of topics dealing with electronic payment processing for Merchant Express.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Evan

    February 6, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Seriously, I feel like a loser) I’ve never heard about such app… Will google immediately. Thanks for the clue. coz it looks like something I may need.

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