Dave Taylor

How Can I Manage My Foursquare Friend List?

By: Dave Taylor
March 30th, 2011

A colleague of mine had a very weird thing happen yesterday: he checked in to a restaurant just before a lunch meeting, and some random person called the restaurand and asked to be connected to him. He had no idea who it was and it's set off quite a firestorm in the office about whether anyone in the company should use geolocation checkin games. I think it's a bit overblown, but want to know, how can I see who are my Foursquare friends and remove those I don't know?

Dave's Answer:

Sounds pretty alarming, actually. I'm a big fan of Foursquare but have some rules of my own about when and how I use it, and am rather antisocial regarding whose requests I accept for friendship on the Foursquare network.

For example, when I'm with my kids, I rarely ever check in to public venues as I value our privacy in those situations, and like to focus my attention on my kids anyway. When I'm out, I am always conscious of the broadcast nature of a checkin too, so if I just want to put my head down and focus on some writing or other work, I'll skip a checkin or use the "don't tell your friends" option if I'm jonesing for a mayorship of that particular venue.

More importantly, I am far more strict about my friend acceptance policy than on other social networks. On Twitter I follow people I don't know, on Facebook I know I'm friends with people who I wouldn't recognize if they came up to me on the street and said "hi", and on LinkedIn, I've become more lax because of the tremendous benefit of a large circle of connections on that site.

On Foursquare, however, my rule of thumb is that if it's not someone I would invite into my house for a cup of tea, I don't want to share my geolocation checkins with them. So I only accept about 40% of the friend requests I receive on Foursquare so that I know when it sends out a message about me just getting to Amanté Uptown or popping into The Med for happy hour, I know it's only my real friends who get that information.

Even with that, however, I was surprised when I reviewed my own friend list on Foursquare that there were a few people who were unknown to me. Sure they live in my area, but that's not a smart reason to tell them my location 3-4 times a day, is it?

To go through my list, I went to Foursquare.com and logged in...

foursquare manage friends list

Once logged in, the "Friends" tab yields three different categories of friends:

foursquare manage friends list 2

You'll want to review "Friends" here, though if you have pending requests, it's an easy way to accept or reject them en masse.

Once you're looking at the list of your friends, identify one with whom you don't want to connect and you'll see their entry is similar to this:

foursquare manage friends list 4

I'm sure Courtney is a lovely person, but I don't remember who she is and therefore she's off my list. To do that, I simply move the cursor to the right of the "pings" checkbox, where a new icon magically appears:

foursquare manage friends list 5

As you might expect, clicking on the "X" removes them from your Foursquare friend list. Well, almost. You still have to confirm that's what you seek...

foursquare manage friends list 6

B'bye Courtney! Go through your own Foursquare list (or the friends list of any other geolocation checkin service you might use, like Gowalla) and make sure that you know each and every person on that list too. It's just smart.

And as an aside, the fact that I can't have Facebook Places checkins go to a subset of my Facebook friends is one reason I rarely, if ever, check in to locations or venues within the Facebook universe. Maybe at a tradeshow...

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About the Author: Dave Taylor has been involved with the Internet since 1980 and is internationally known as an expert on both business and technology issues. Holder of an MSEd and MBA, author of twenty books and founder of four startups, he also runs a strategic marketing company and consults with firms seeking the best approach to working with weblogs and social networks. Dave is an award-winning speaker and frequent guest on radio and podcast programs. AskDaveTaylor.com http://www.intuitive.com/blog/