Is ‘Friend Stalking’ the new Twitter?

Foursqaure is the latest social networking tool hoping to be the next online obsession. It allows you to find out where any of your friends are at any specific point in time and visa versa.

Somewhere between Facebook, Twitter and Satellite GPS lies Foursquare – the new social networking site that promises you access to your friend’s immediate location, anytime, anywhere.

The concept is simple, just log on and ‘check-in’ your current location and Foursquare will then distribute this information to your friends whilst also filling you in on what they’re up to.

The site has already taken off in the US where almost one million people are busy checking in and checking out who’s around.

However, unlike Twitter and Facebook, both of which remain firmly in the online world, Foursquare is keen to take social networking to the next level and instigate ‘real’ interaction through putting you in touch with your friends in your area at any given time.

‘We want Foursquare to be a lot about encouraging adventure, to give you a reason to do things and go places that you might not always think to do’ says founder Dennis Crowley.

Turning the world into a virtual playground, users are encouraged to pick up ‘rewards’ for using the site, including various points and medals, and even the chance to become ‘mayor’ of a location if you are the one who achieves the most check-ins at that place over the course of a week.

You can also rate various places that you’ve visited, turning the site into a personal guidebook between you and your friends.

Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary biologist from Oxford says, ‘Our informed opinion is really that in the end you still have to have that face-to-face contact to properly renew a friendship’.

However there are some drawbacks to all of this information sharing, as giving out your exact location could theoretically advertise you as a target to thieves.

The problem comes when users also post these locations the information becomes publicly available, making it theoretically possible for a robber (or anyone else) to keep tabs on when you say you’re in your home or not.’ says Boy van Amstel, one of the founders of Please Rob Me, a website set up to illustrate the danger of sharing too much information online.

“We saw people checking in at their home addresses, or even worse, those of their friends and family,” van Amstel says. “Which we just thought was very wrong.”

However even with all the warnings, there are several players in the ‘geo-social’ race all desperate to be the next big thing in online networking, so watch this space.


So will you be checking in to Foursquare?

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