As I type, I’m sitting on 27 pending friend requests on Foursquare. Why? Because I don’t know any of them.
Normally, I’d be one to simply accept the invitation and move on, but, lately, I’ve been giving it a bit more thought.
For those who aren’t familiar, Foursquare is a location based mobile application. When you fire up the app on your smart phone, it knows approximately where you’re located, and you can check in at the location you’re frequenting. There’s much more to the service, but for the sake of this post – check out this great primer on Foursquare here.
I asked this question to Twitter the other day, and got a lot of mixed responses. I’d like to open this question up to debate by doing an old school pros & cons list.
Why You Should Accept Requests
At its core, Foursquare is much like Twitter in that it facilitates connections. There have been many occasions where my Foursquare checking in has led to in person meetings with people I wouldn’t normally get a chance to see.
Its also helped me discover cool new spots in my city, which, when you’re trying to find a cool place to take a business contact to lunch (or a great spot for a dinner date), can help tremendously.
Call me naive, but at this stage in the game, I tend to believe that the majority of people joining and participating in Foursquare are in it for all the right reasons. Most social media “strangers” that I meet are engaging and incredibly kind. Why would I want to put a barrier in front of more of those connections?
Besides, if you’re one of those Foursquare users who ties your account into other social networks like Facebook and Twitter – you’re broadcasting to the world anyway, so why not make a few friends while you’re at it?
Why You Shouldn’t Accept Requests
The biggest problem most people seem to have with location based applications like Foursquare is that they remove one of the final layers of privacy online – your physical location. Sure, you could always update your Twitter or Facebook status, but it’s not the same as broadcasting your local travel habits to people who you may not know very well.
Accepting friend requests from strangers could lead to cases of stalking, burglary, or worse. Why would you open yourself up to the risk?
Besides the lack of privacy and safety issues, if you accept requests from people you don’t know, your stream gets flooded and you can’t keep up with the people you actually want to see. And if you have push notifications turned on? Forget about it. Your phone will be buzzing like there’s no tomorrow.
So where do you stand? Is Foursquare the ultimate IRL tool or is it just another way you’re sacrificing your privacy online?