May 22, 2022

Privacy: Foursquare’s New Mobile App Now Tracks Users Even When the App Is Closed

As the article points out (below) users must now go into settings of the device and manually opt-out otherwise the updated Foursquare app will track users EVEN if the app is CLOSED.

This is the type of privacy news, tips, and education that libraries should be sharing with users. They’re relevant, timely, and of interest to many. They are also useful to demonstrate the library and the librarian as a “go to” source for this type of info. For some users, privacy is not an important issue but for others it is and the library/info pro should be ready, willing, and able to share this type of info/knowledge. This also fits in nicely with the library as educator/digital literacy training role.

Things change quickly in the world of online privacy so continuous training and awareness is essential.

From the WSJ:

Starting today, users who download or update the Foursquare app will automatically let the company track their GPS coordinates any time their phone is powered on. Foursquare previously required users to give the app permission to turn on location-tracking. Now users must change a setting within the app to opt out.

The update is an extreme shift for five-year-old Foursquare, whose eponymous app is known for a blue button that lets users “check in” to popular spots to earn graphical badges. That check-in feature is now gone, part of a new app Foursquare launched in May called Swarm in an effort to find a sustainable business model.

Instead of earning badges, Foursquare users are now encouraged to leave tips about the places they frequent. They will also get push notifications of recommendations of restaurants and bars based on places they’ve visited. A sushi lover exploring a new town might see suggestions on the best sushi spots automatically appear on her phone without having to open the app.


Foursquare’s app goes beyond location-tracking features offered by competitors. Social apps like Twitter collect GPS coordinates to give users the option of sharing their location with friends, but don’t collect this data when the app is off. When Facebook introduced a “nearby friends” tool on its mobile app earlier this year, it required uses to opt in to the feature.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.