Why I'm Long Foursquare: Privacy

August 20, 2010 Filed under: Facebook

Let's be honest, I'm "long" Foursquare for several reasons, ranging from looking at comparables like Twitter and how they've fought through Facebook's onslaughts, to sharing blind, entrepreneurial optimism with my friend who started and work at the company. So here's the disclaimer: there's not much you could tell me that would make me too negative about the future of Foursquare, despite Facebook Places.

But, when you hear that Foursquare had more signups yesterday than ever before, and you look at how confusing using Facebook Places is, it's then that I leave my blind optimism behind and come up with a pretty solid reasons why Foursquare is here to stay, and is going to dominate the mobile-meets-social revolution:

Foursquare's strength in its battle against Facebook is tucked away in a little nuance Dennis and Naveen have understood for years. While Foursquare haters (same people who asked "why would people want to blog" and then "why would people want to share stupid things on Twitter) say "why would you want to tell people where you are," they overlook 2 features which have always been present on Foursquare: 1) the ability to hide your whereabouts when you checkin; and 2) the ability to only share with certain networks.

It's this second feature which is most important.

On Facebook, I've never figured out the friend-list feature (same with every other user of Facebook) and so I've resigned to know that when I push something to Facebook, EVERYONE is going to see that information. So with anything Facebook related, I'm dictated by the social, and not the practical.

Foursquare has the power here because real users of their platform know that they have a lot more control, and they know which network is going to get what information. For instance, with most of my checkins, I only want to tell other Foursquare friends what I'm up to. My thinking is that if they're my Foursquare friends, they're both my real-real friends, and my friends I don't mind sharing my whereabouts with. While convention of Facebook has convinced me to friend people on Facebook I don't really consider friends and who work in my industry or are friends with my friends, convention on Foursquare -- something Dennis has always, always defended -- is to keep your network tight.

In a time of Facebook privacy backlash, Foursquare's biggest advantage is that it's a new network for most people where they can start over with their social graph and define a new set of people who can see where they are and what they are doing, in real life.

Facebook is going to own the activity feed for a lot of people -- and that's fine -- but the checkin information I want in my activity feed is just a small, small portion of the total checkins I'm going to perform.

That's why I'm long Foursqure. I believe they'll embrace their roots and a "real, real friends only" platform and become the place where people segment their larger social graph, found on Facebook, and focus on their IRL social graph, found on Fourquare.

Good luck team Foursquare!

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