We wanted to update you on recent improvements we’ve made to the controls that help users manage what foursquare account information is shared with others. Our goal is to make it easy for you to share check-ins with your friends when you so desire, and to hide such information when you want. Accordingly, each time you check into a venue, we give you the option to share your check-in with friends (or keep it private), and share this information with your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter if you’ve opted into linking these accounts to your foursquare account.
On the “Settings” page for your account (which can be accessed at http://foursquare.com/settings), we give you even more options for controlling your data — we give you the option to share your phone number and email address with friends, the option to let local business owners see that you’ve checked into their venue, and the option to allow other users see when you’re checked into a venue (in the “Who’s Here” list for that venue in the foursquare mobile application). You can opt in, or opt out, of any of these settings.
A little over a week ago (on Monday the 21st), our developers were alerted to a problem that enabled sophisticated users, by continuously scraping venue pages from our website through anonymous gateways, to capture private check-in information that users didn’t intend to share with the general public. Three days later, our team began rolling out a number of solutions to this problem. First, we ensured that any user that had opted out of appearing in the “Who’s Here” lists no longer appeared in the “Who’s Been Here” photo mosaics on our site (this fix went live last Thursday). Second, we updated the language on our “Settings” page to clarify what opting into the “Who’s Here” feature entails. Third, we randomized the order of the photos being posted under the ”Who’s Been Here” headings on our venue pages to prevent anyone from scraping this data to try to estimate check-in times of various users.
So that’s the techie detail. What does it mean in plain English? There was a glitch in our service that allowed sophisticated developers to glean some user check-in info, and we fixed it. We will continue to do all we can to improve user controls over information sharing as we grow our team and our user base.
We’re very sorry if information that users didn’t intend to share was temporarily made public on our venue pages or through our API. Please bear with us… we’re continually looking for ways to improve the sharing options that we provide to our users, and we’re intent on further improving tools and communication in this area. We encourage all of our users to check their privacy settings regularly to ensure that they’re comfortable with the amount of information that they’re sharing.
- team foursquare