How to take control of your Foursquare account privacy

When it comes to location-based services such as Foursquare, privacy is always a big concern. This guide will show you how to control what information other users can access in your Foursquare account.

Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
4 min read

As location-based services (LBS) become more and more popular, the debate surrounding privacy grows as well. One popular LBS service, Foursquare, is growing in popularity by the day.

Through this guide we plan to show you how to customize the privacy settings of your Foursquare account; allowing you to reveal or limit as much personal information as you would like.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

The first thing you will need to do is to login to your Foursquare account, and click on the Settings link at the top of the window, it should be located next to Log Out. Once you have navigated to the Settings screen, you should see something similar to the screen above.

This top section allows you to edit what information users can see, as well as edit any information tied your account. By checking or not checking a box, you will either allow or deny users access to your phone number, e-mail address, and Facebook or Twitter accounts.

When a user views your profile through the mobile app, they will have access to whatever information you allow to be available, which is determined by these boxes.

Check the boxes next to the information you are comfortable with being readily available. Leave the boxes unchecked for the information you wish to remain private.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

If you scroll down in Settings, you will see a section titled "Your privacy profile" as well as a section titled "Send me an email when." The e-mail alert settings are a matter of personal preference and don't necessarily have much to do with privacy, so we won't go into great detail about this section.

We will, however, go through each option of the privacy profile, and explain exactly what they mean.

  • Participate in Foursquare mayorships. If you would like to participate in earning mayorships at venues you frequent, check this box. Being the mayor at a location means that your picture, as well as account, will be shown when someone views that venue either on the Web site or on their mobile device.
  • Show me in the 'Who's here' list in the mobile app. With this option enabled it will allow another user to be shown your picture and be able to view your profile, when they look at venue where you are currently checked in. Check this box if you would like your picture to show up.
  • Include me in my friends' status updates to Twitter and Facebook when I'm checked into the same place as they are. This option controls whether or not your name will be included when you check-in to a venue with fellow Foursquare friends, and they send their check-ins to Twitter of Facebook. Check this box if you don't mind your name being included in those tweets or status updates.
  • Let local businesses know when I'm a loyal customer. When a business owner claims a venue, they are able to see a wide range of stats regarding who has checked-in to their venue. Checking this box will allow your check-ins to show up to the business owners.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

After you have set your privacy profile settings, the next section allows you to connect your Twitter or Facebook accounts to your Foursquare account. Doing this allows you to search your Twitter or Facebook friends for fellow Foursquare users, or share your check-ins, badges, and mayorships with your Twitter and Facebook friends.

Once you connect one or both of these accounts to your foursquare account, decide how much (or little) information you want to be automatically sent to the services. Sharing can be fun, but remember, we are dealing with your exact location at a given time, it is better to err on the side of caution.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

One thing to note is that if you leave the "Share my check-ins on Twitter" box unchecked, you will still be able to control the sharing of your check-ins on your mobile device on each check-in (as seen in the screen above). If you were to check this box, it would send every check-in the corresponding service.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani

The last section may be one of the most important portions of your Foursquare account settings. The Connections section shows you all of the third-party apps you have allowed access to your Foursquare account, including your personal information.

If you feel that an app is accessing your account with malicious intent, this is where you would go to revoke that apps access to your account. To revoke access to an app, find the name of the app in the list, then click the Revoke Access link to the right of the app name. Once this is done, that app will no longer be able to interact with your Foursquare account.

When it comes to privacy while using LBS services you can never be too careful. We hope that this guide has helped you customize your privacy settings in a way that allows you to truly enjoy using Foursquare.