Facebook-owned Instagram is taking steps to distance itself from its current location provider Foursquare, and the move what could spell trouble for the 5-year-old local search service.
Instagram is testing Facebook Places in place of Foursquare for some of its 150 million active users, CNET has confirmed with Instagram. The test, first spotted by FastCompany, means that selected Instagram users, when they select to "name this location," will find that the list of places is provided by Facebook, Instagram's owner, and not Foursquare.
"Foursquare is a great partner, and people will continue to be able to share their check-ins to Foursquare from Instagram," an Instagram spokesperson told CNET. "We are constantly testing experiences throughout the app to provide the best possible user experience as part of future planning."
Foursquare's database of places currently serves as the location backbone for a number of social apps including Path, Pinterest, Vine, and, yes, Instagram. The behind-the-scenes integration allows people to pick a place from a list of nearby venues sourced from Foursquare and attach that locale to their pictures, videos, and posts.
The Facebook Places swap makes strategic sense for the social network, as Instagram's overseer would surely prefer to perfect its own location database instead of handing that data over to a competitor.
A full blown switcheroo, however, would be problematic for Foursquare. The location app initially popularized place check-ins but is currently focused on competing with Yelp in the local search arena. Though the New York-based company has attracted 45 million registered users, Foursquare has yet to gain mainstream appeal, and being completely severed from Instagram would disconnect the service from the location behaviors of people using one of the world's most popular social applications.
"We've worked with Facebook and Instagram for a while, and they're great partners," a Foursquare spokesperson said. "Like any company, they're testing new ways to provide a good user experience, however all users can still share check-ins via Instagram."