Yesterday we all got word that Facebook is announcing something Wednesday and that the something was going to be some location services like Foursquare. My gut told me that if Facebook did announce a location/checkin system that privacy would be a big concern—If Facebook launches “location services” would you use them?—and it looks like I was on the mark because Foursquare posted about how they are helping you understand their privacy matrix better—foursquare – Some notes on foursquare and location sharing.
I looked through the Foursquare privacy matrix and I think it’s as clear as it can be for the issues that we’re working on. I’m okay with my settings for the time being and I’m glad that Foursquare took this step. Of course, this is just a shot across the bow of Facebook. Foursquare is reminding all of us about Facebook’s privacy problems just before they might unleash something that could hit Foursquare broadside. I agree with Mashable that this is a smart move—Foursquare Focuses on Privacy on Eve of Expected Facebook Location Launch—what I hope is that it’s enough.
My gut tells me it will be. I stand by that friends on Foursquare are different than friends on other social networks and I doubt I’ll want to have to spend time re-gigging all my Facebook friends to match my privacy comfort levels. I suspect I won’t be alone in this. What the smart play would be is for Foursquare to keep on the “we respect your privacy” track and wait until Facebook makes a gaff with location services.
The question of whether Foursquare can whether the storm is answered by Twitter keeping steady on its own growth path even with Facebook trying to corner the near-real time news stream. Sometimes we don’t need everything we do online consolidated under one service. I think, in fact, Facebook could popularize checking into places, and might help Foursquare and other location-based games in the long term.
At least that’s what my guts tells me.