Privacy on Foursquare

Foursquare Privacy Basics

Official Privacy Policy

Terms and Conditions

Cookie Policy

What changed since the policy was last updated?

In February 2018, we reorganized our privacy policy into sections that make it easier to read and understand for both our community of active users on our apps, as well as customers of our enterprise products, and other individuals who touch our data, such as users of partner apps that rely on our Places database of 105M places.  

Our goal with this updated policy is to clearly articulate how we protect your data, and to give you information so you can to change your settings at any time. As always, our policy covers both our consumer services and our enterprise products—and now it also lays the foundation for the innovative new location-centric products we plan to launch in the future. Below you’ll find more details that explain our privacy ethos. If you have any questions, please email privacy@foursquare.com.  

What we think about when we think about privacy

Foursquare's apps deal with location and social information, and we're proud to have millions of passionate users who trust us and find our apps useful. We know an important concern for most anyone using location-based services is privacy. We want everyone to feel comfortable that their trust has been well placed, which is why we've written this description of our privacy ethos—the guiding principles that inform how we develop our Services and the decisions we make. Our full Privacy Policy is available here.

The Foursquare apps are meant to help you make the most of where you are and we do our best to give you privacy options where we think you'll want them. If you don’t want to share this kind of information, you don’t have to, but that means we can’t personalize your experience.

To make it easier for you to understand how your information is shared on our Services, at the bottom of this page you’ll see exactly how your privacy settings can be adjusted.

Determining location for those who use our consumer services

Foursquare's apps (“Consumer Services”) deal with location, so in order to work best, the apps need to know your location. We use various technologies to determine your location, such as the location services of your operating system or browser and sensor data from your device (e.g. GPS data and cell tower data) that may help us to understand your precise location. Unless you choose to share it with others by adding friends, the information about your whereabouts is concealed. Because our apps are location-centric, when they are installed—and at various other times—they prompt users to select location permissions, depending on the type of device. Location sharing allows us to customize your experience so that we can serve up personalized recommendations just for you.     

Sharing location

Our apps use location information in different ways. For example, real-time location is not shared on the Foursquare City Guide app. If you write a tip, like, or otherwise interact with a place, users may infer that you have been to that location. Some content is time stamped and other users could use that information to infer when you were at a place even though tips can be posted when you aren’t at the place you are leaving a tip about.

If you use Swarm to check in, or, if you have turned on 'check in by friends,' your location is shared with your approved in-app network. If you want to check in without sharing your specific whereabouts with friends, you can check-in "off-the-grid."

If you use City Guide to check in, and you do not have Swarm installed on your device, your location is private to you. Should you download Swarm at a later date, your check-ins will appear in the app but will be noted as “off-the-grid” and will not be visible to anyone.

Each of your check-ins using the Services is saved to your "Check-in History," which allows you and your friends to look back at all the locations you have checked in since you created your Services account. You can delete any or all of your check-ins from the check-in details page on our website and in the apps. If for some reason you ever decide to delete your Services account, your entire check-in history will be removed from our database. While your off-the-grid check-ins will not be visible to the public or your friends, we will use the information to provide the Services in a manner consistent with the disclosures in the Privacy Policy and we may share the fact that such check-in has occurred in an anonymous manner.

Adding your home address as a location

You should be aware that if you or your friends add your home as a new location in the Services database and that information is published on the Services (for example, via a user checking in to that home location), that information may be available to others and may be published by third parties without our control. To request removal of a location from the Services database (including your home address) please email us at privacy@foursquare.com.

What information is public?

When you create an account on Foursquare City Guide, the following is viewable to the public. Note that some elements are optional or can be edited.

  • Your name You can edit your name by going to your account settings. To use Foursquare City Guide you only need to provide a first name.

  • Profile photo Your profile photo and the link to your profile page are viewable by the public. You may choose not to upload a profile photo to your account (or you may upload an avatar in place of a photo of yourself). In your account settings, you can change your profile photo.

  • Home city Your home city is viewable by the public. You are not required to include your home city upon signup and you can edit your home city in your account settings.

  • Your bio Your bio is viewable by the public. Including a bio is completely optional.  To add, change, or remove your bio, go to your account settings.

  • Your Foursquare City Guide followers and who you follow Your list of followers is visible to the public. Note that the Foursquare City Guide app does not share location with your followers or people that you follow.

  • Tips and Lists All tips that you write (and the photos you attach to them) will be viewable by the public. Please keep this in mind whenever you choose to leave a tip! Lists you create are viewable to the public. Keep this in mind before you decide to create a list and add tips and photos to it!

  • Likes/Dislikes Likes and Dislikes are public. When you like a check-in, tip, etc., other people on Foursquare who can see that particular piece of content can also see that you’ve liked it.

  • Photos When you add a photo to a tip, or to a place on Foursquare City Guide, that photo is public.

  • Tastes Your tastes are viewable on your Foursquare City Guide profile.

  • Check-ins If you check-in on Foursquare City Guide, your check-ins are private, though friends who look at the venue page will see that you’ve visited the location in the past (without any time/date information).

When you create an account on Foursquare Swarm, your information, such as check-ins, is only shared with those whom you approve in your personal network. The following elements are public:

  • Your name You can edit your name by going to your account settings. To use Foursquare Swarm you only need to provide a first name.
  • Profile photo Your profile photo and the link to your profile page are viewable by the public. You may choose not to upload a profile photo to your account (or you may upload an avatar in place of a photo of yourself), but note: profile photos are required for unlocking mayorships. In your account settings, you can change your profile photo.
  • Home city Your home city is viewable by the public. You are not required to include your home city upon signup and you can edit your home city in your account settings.

  • Your bio Your bio is viewable by the public. Including a bio is completely optional. To add, change, or remove your bio, go to your account settings.

  • Raw number of check-ins While the total number of check-ins is public, the locations, time of visit, and other details are not publicly shared. With every check-in, you are able to make the check-in “off-the-grid,” which is only visible to you.

  • Photos When uploading a photo to Swarm, you have the option to make the photo public or to keep it private, which means it is only visible to your Swarm friends.

  • Friends list The list of your approved Swarm friends is viewable from your Swarm profile.

  • Lifelogging metrics: Your total number of categories visited, streaks, mayorships, stickers, check-ins and superuser level are viewable from your Swarm profile, but none of the specific places or other details are accessible for anyone other than people in your approved network.

  • Public check-ins In the case that you check-in to a venue and another person with Swarm also checks-in, that person will see your publicly available profile data.

How your data helps us generate recommendations

The Foursquare apps (“Consumer Services”) may share recommendations about where to go and what to try nearby. These recommendations are based on and include, for example, your current location; the locations you've visited and locations and things you and your friends and people you follow like/dislike; the day of the week; the time of day; and so on. We are able to provide these personalized recommendations because you share your location with us. No one else can see your recommendations.

Is your data shared?

There are instances when you may opt to share your data with other third party apps, such as when you connect your accounts to Twitter and Facebook. You can always control what you want shared in your settings. When we partner with a business, we may share data with them, but only in an aggregate or pseudonymized way (which means we share a non-identifying ID); personally identifiable information, or PII, is never shared. For more information on this, please see our privacy policy.

Can you request your data?

In our updated policy, we’ve explicitly spelled out that users have certain legal rights to their data on request, and the right to withdraw consent at any time. You may have heard about GDPR; the details in section IV specifically addresses this new regulation.

Your privacy is important

The bottom line is that we understand how important privacy is to you. From the beginning we've been working hard to build a range of robust privacy controls to give you control over the amount of information you share about your location. We've been a leader in the location-based services space—popularizing the concept of voluntarily "checking in" to locations—and we aspire to be leaders in the way we educate our users on privacy issues related to location awareness.

The complete Privacy Policy

For further information on Foursquare's approach to these issues and additional details, please see our Privacy Policy or email privacy@foursquare.com