I got a request to connect with an old acquaintance on foursquare today. Sure... I know her and I'll follow that link and "friend" her... But, to be honest, I haven't checked in on Foursquare since February 6, 2010. And, as you might expect, I've been out to eat and drink a bit more recently than that.
Since I got my Android I've been a lot more active on Facebook, and I've tossed a few comments to Twitter, which is brain-dead easy with the apps. But, how many apps do I really want to install on my phone? And how many people do I really want to let know just how often I'm out eating and drinking at some fine, or not so fine, establishment.
But aside from the personal privacy issue (which is actually easy -- don't share and, bam, instant privacy), there's that corporate privacy thing. I need to separate out "corporate privacy" from "personal privacy" because I don't really care if my friends know what I'm up to, but I don't want to have to give Foursquare a copy of my address book so I can let people know I'm having a vodka mojito in SE Portland.
I've already given Facebook permission to rummage through my little black book (er, little black phone). I didn't mean to, but what's done is done. To then give foursquare the same permission, and then yelp, and Google+, and Foodspotting... well, that's a lot of random companies who now have my friends, family, and a lot of my client's email addresses... just so I can tell my friends I'm eating a taco.
When I set up my foursquare account on the web, it asked if it could rummage through my contact list to suggest friends -- a request I declined. Almost every social media website does this, and I pretty much decline every time. No problem, no hard feelings, let's move on and play with your little web app.
But mobile is somehow different. I can't opt-out of sharing my contact list. I can't choose to create a "fake" account to test a service like I can on the web because they're going to have access to my other accounts and connect the dots. I pretty much have to open the kimono and let them have full access to... everything.
Most social media websites don't work very well on my mobile browser, so it's either install the mobile app or don't use the service. So I have services like foursquare that I rarely, if ever use -- I may have set the account up years ago, and I might even like the service, but if I'm not interacting with it, I don't really count as their customer.
I still share my mojito and taco experience with my friends, but I'm not going to share my friends with some random social media company.
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