The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Foursquare Site Eliminates Privacy

Times have certainly changed in the era of social networking. It used to be that if you wanted to know where a friend was, you would send a text, and if you wanted a review of an establishment, you would Google it. Now with Foursquare, you can have both in one convenient little application.

Foursquare is a social networking website that can be downloaded as an application. Users can either download the Foursquare application to their smart phones or access it via text message.

With Foursquare, when you go anywhere, (be it a café, school or supermarket), you “check in” using GPS. Then your friends can log on and see where you are. Foursquare has an entire network of places set up, and if a place (like your house) isn’t already on Foursquare, you can add it.

Then, by linking it to Facebook, Twitter and/or their address books, users can see where their friends have checked in recently, and get tips about establishments like restaurants from any of the millions of users.

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Foursquare encourages users to check in as much as possible and even offers points and badges as rewards. For example, users can unlock the “Swarm” badge by checking in at a location where 50 or more people have already checked in, or the “Photogenic” badge by checking in at 3 or more places with a photobooth.

If you check in at a location more frequently than any other Foursquare user, you become the mayor of that location.

While the tips and rewards can be useful to Foursquare users, some aspects of the site are just creepy. Strangers who visit the homepage are greeted with a newsfeed which shows what users have done recently. (In case you were wondering, Steve M. in Anaheim, CA unlocked the ‘Photogenic’ badge and Ivanna M. in Makassar, South Sulawesi became the mayor of Kosi Cozy.)

Users can click on a username and see their full profile, complete with a full-size picture. This means that if you become mayor of the local Jamba Juice, some curious stranger sitting at a coffee shop thousands of miles away—or a registered sex offender sitting just around the corner—can click on your name and see your face, your badges, your friends on Foursquare and the places you visit most often.

And as a bonus, if you add your house to Foursquare, people can even see exactly where you live and get a handy little map of your neighborhood in case they get lost while they’re following you home.

Foursquare aspires to turn users into modern-day explorers who use phones and GPS as their guides instead of a compass and a map. With these tools, you can supposedly find happiness “just around the corner.”

Once upon a time exploration was motivated by curiosity. Now, apparently, it’s motivated by the desire to unlock more badges.

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