Last Updated: April 11, 2016

Privacy 101

What we think about when we think about privacy

Foursquare's apps deal with location and social information, and we're thrilled to have so many passionate users both trust us and find our apps useful enough to open them up every day.

However, 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 and our Privacy FAQs are available here.

The Foursquare apps are meant to help you make the most of where you are, and we try to make responsible choices, communicate them clearly, and give you privacy options where we think you'll want them.

To make it easier for you to understand how your information is shared on our Services, we've put together Privacy FAQs that describe our default privacy settings and how they can be adjusted.

Determining Location

Foursquare's Services deal with location, so in order to work, the Services need to know your location. Whenever you open and use/interact with our apps on your mobile device or go to one of our Sites, we use the location information from your mobile device or browser (e.g., latitude and longitude) to tailor the Services to your current location (i.e., we'll show you a list of nearby locations, friends and tips). This information is NOT shared with others. Also, the Services use your mobile device’s ‘background location’ to provide the Services, including to send you notifications of tips/friends/plans/interesting things etc. near you. If you have ‘background location’ turned on, the Foursquare app will, from time to time, tell us about your device’s location even if you are not directly interacting with the application. We use various technologies to determine location, such as location services of the applicable operating system or browser and sensor data from your device that may, for example, provide information on nearby Wi-Fi- access points and cell towers.

Sharing Location

Sharing Location with Foursquare app (version 8.0.0 and later) - Your real-time location is not shared on the Foursquare 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, like tips, are 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. Also, if you check into a place on Swarm, Foursquare may show your followers that you have been to that place.

Sharing Location with Foursquare app (prior to version 8.0.0) - Your location data is ONLY shared with others when you proactively decide to "check in" on the Foursquare app to tell the Services you're at a particular place or, if you have turned on 'check-in by friends,' when your friend mentions you in his or her check in. The location information shared with a "check in" is the location information of that place.

Sharing Location with Swarm app - By default, neighborhood sharing is turned on and your location data, at a neighborhood level, is shared with your Swarm friends and is updated from time to time using your background location. You can turn off neighborhood sharing. Your location is also shared when you proactively decide to "check in" on the Swarm app to tell the Services you're at a particular place or, if you have turned on 'check-in by friends,' when your friend mentions you in his or her check in. The location information shared with a "check in" is the location information of that place. Additionally, when you send a message on Swarm, your mobile device's location is shared with all recipients of the message, including friends of friends on Swarm who have received the same message (e.g., if you respond to a group message sent by a friend, all of the participants in that group message may see your mobile device's location). If you want to check-in without sharing your specific whereabouts with friends, you can check-in "off-the-grid".

Your Check-in History - 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.

Off-the-Grid Check-ins

Sometimes you’ll want to check in without sharing your specific whereabouts with friends. This is why we created "off-the-grid check-ins" -- a way of adding locations to your check-in history, keeping track of streaks, and earning coins, without sharing your location to your friends. We find this comes in handy on dates, dinners with parents, or at a coffee shop when you’re just trying to get some work done - really anywhere where you don’t want friends to drop in. 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


The Foursquare app gives you recommendations about where to go and specials and offers nearby. These recommendations are based on and include, for example, the locations you've been, the locations your friends have visited, locations and things you and your friends and people you follow like/dislike, locations and things you and your friends and people you follow save, your loyalty to your favorite locations, your and your friends' and people you follow's tastes, the categories and types of locations you go, what locations and things are popular with other users, the day of the week, locations with great tips, the time of day, and so on.

Here Now

One of the benefits of the Services is that it allows you to connect with other users in your neighborhood. We've specifically designed features that can give you a glimpse into which other Service users (both friends and non-friends) are currently checked in where you or your friends are. Since we realize some folks may not want to appear on this "Here Now" list, you can opt out of this feature on your account settings.


The Swarm app gives users the ability to send messages to others. You can send a message to a single person or to a group. Even if your friends aren't on Swarm, you can add people from your Address Book. If you comment on a group message, your comment will be viewable to everyone in the group. For more information about how your location is shared in messages, see the section "Sharing Location with Swarm app."

Sharing to Third Party Services (i.e., Twitter and Facebook)

Ours Services give you the option of sharing some of your activity to your Twitter and/or Facebook accounts. Of course, when you publish check-ins, tips, plans, Mayorships, or badge unlocks to Twitter or Facebook, this information will be viewable by the communities on those services (and in the case of Twitter, may be discoverable by search engines). Please see Privacy FAQs for more information on what happens when you choose to connect your Services account to your Twitter or Facebook accounts, and how you can adjust which information you share across these services.

Information Sharing: Publicly Available Information and Apps

When you use the Services, certain information is public, such as your public user profile information, tips, likes, saves, public photos, lists that you create and save, tastes, badges/stickers, mayorships, and lists of friends and/or followers (as applicable to a particular Service), and may be searchable by search engines and be shared with or disclosed to third parties, including through our API or SDK to a wide range of users and services. We may also share or disclose aggregated and/or anonymous data, such as de-identified check-in data (that does not identify an individual user), to third parties, including users of our API or SDK and our customers, for analytical or other purposes.

In addition, use of third party apps developed using our API or that incorporate or SDK is subject to the terms of use and privacy policies of such third party developers. Certain Personal Information may be made available to third party developers if you or your "friends" use these third party apps. You should review the policies of third party apps and websites to ensure that you are comfortable with the ways in which they use the information you share with them. We do not guarantee that they will follow our rules or our Privacy Policy. Note that your friends will be able to see which third party apps you use.

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 into the Services experience to give users control over the amount of information they share about their 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.

Privacy Policy

For further information on Foursquare's approach to these issues, please see our Privacy Policy and our Privacy FAQs.