Trust is like gold dust
is celebrating 10 years since it first broke onto the scene as the app everyone wanted to use at SXSW 2009.
I first started using it to ‘check in’ wherever I go a few months later. Back then, the app worked on a city by city basis, so you had to wait for it to roll out in your area. While the novelty of checking in wore off for some, there are still many people using the company’s Swarm
app to keep a log of the places they go, either for personal use or to share with others.
I still check in pretty much everywhere. And in the current climate of endless news stories about data breaches and companies that abuse our trust, that should ring alarm bells. But for some reason, it doesn’t. Foursquare generates most of its revenue from its data business, but I still don’t really worry much about that log of everywhere I’ve gone for a decade being misused.
Trust is a powerful thing. Over the years, Foursquare has never done anything to make me worry that my data was being used in ways I’d not be happy with. And a piece from Engadget over the weekend
Foursquare is currently letting users in Austin, Texas use a 'Hypertrending’ feature that offers a view of its 'god view’ – letting you see which local venues are busiest in real-time. It looks like a fun little feature, if of limited use, but the thinking behind is worth looking at:
“Hypertrending is interesting because giving users a peek behind the veil at the risk of freaking them out is exactly what most tech companies don’t do. (Founder, Dennis) Crowley has framed it as a demo for consumers and he wants a cultural read on its acceptability. Do people welcome it? Will they understand it?”
The Engadget piece continues:
“Foursquare vets the companies it works with for whether they use location tracking for a genuinely useful feature or just to sell data. Foursquare also tracks whether their partners are explicit with users about how they use location information.
”'The stuff that comes naturally to us because we’ve been doing it for a long time does not come naturally to other companies,’ Crowley said.“
So that’s why I see Foursquare as a trustworthy custodian of my data, and why I continue to tell them everywhere I go.
Sure, there’s no guarantee my data won’t fall into the wrong hands, or that Foursquare won’t 'turn evil’ later, but the value I get from that location log, seeing what other people are doing, and the fun I have racking up 'coins’ with my check-ins make it worth my while continuing to trust that Foursquare will do the right thing.
And you can’t say that about many tech companies these days.