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Foursquare touts 40M users in bid for renewed relevancy

Don't count the location-sharing social network out just yet. With a growing user base and an increased focus on advertising, Foursquare is still kicking.

Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference.
Shara Tibken/CNET

Foursquare hasn't shared a ton of good news since it took on $40 million in debt last April. But things are looking up for the location-based social network as it begins to wrap its head around advertising and expand its geolocation service's core features.

As of last week, Microsoft may be considering a strategic investment, and now Foursquare has some strong numbers -- 40 million users to be exact -- to bolster its claims of good health. That's a huge step up from the generally quoted 35 million user base that Foursquare has touted officially all year.

The company is also aiming to better leverage its 40,000-person community of "superusers," as it calls them, who use the app every single day and keep the check-ins flowing. That's why the company has, as of Thursday, automated its process for becoming a superuser.

Prior to automation, Foursquare's support team of just six people used to manually review each superuser application. Now that process is a short-listing system that tests candidates on their ability to suggest edits, measuring for accuracy and promoting strong-scoring users automatically.

An example of Foursquare's editing tool for superusers. Foursquare

What does the status actually get you? Well, a superuser basically gets to exert a kind of editorial control over the organization of his or her favorite places in the database of Foursquare's 55 million locations. That means being the pre-eminent go-to user for keeping a venue's most important attributes -- contact information, hours, location, etc. -- up to date and relevant.

On top of these announcements, the social network made waves last week when it announced a new passive location feature for its mobile app that would automatically detect a user's location and send you relevant information like menu recommendations from friends. The feature aims to help curb the app's adoption issues by reducing the amount of work required to actually use it.

It's currently enabled on a trial version of its Android app for 2,000 people, but is expected to roll out to all 40 million of its users later this year.

Update at 12:30 p.m. PT: Clarified the function of Foursquare's passive location feature; it does not automatically check-in users.