Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Is There a 'Hardly Anyone Uses Foursquare' Badge?

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, September 7 2011

Americans are still tuned out from the check-in.

A study released yesterday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that a paltry seven percent of all adults have their phones set to automatically tag their location to posts from services like Facebook and Twitter. Among smartphone owners, only 12 percent use check-in services like Foursquare or Gowalla — but a full 55 percent of people with smartphones use them to get location-based directions and recommendations, according to the survey. Put another way, more than a quarter of all American adults use location-based services generally, ranging from location-aware Google Maps to Yelp.

People of color and higher-income people are more likely to use so-called "geosocial" services — again, that means badgefests like Foursquare — but white people are more likely to get directions and recommendations, the study found. The study also found that younger people were more likely to use all of those services.

“Americans are not currently all that eager to share explicitly their location on social media sites, but they are taking advantage of their phones’ geolocation capabilities in other ways,” said Kathryn Zickuhr, Pew Internet Project research specialist and co-author of the report, in a press release. “Smartphone owners are using their phones to get fast access to location-relevant information on-the-go.”

It wouldn't be correct to suggest that increased use of services like Foursquare necessarily tracks with unsophisticated notions of privacy. Previous Pew research shows that young adults are more likely than others to track their reputation online, modify their privacy settings on social networks to limit what becomes public, and delete unwanted comments on their online posts — but there don't seem to be any numbers out there that explicitly connect notions of privacy with how willing people are to become pins on a map.

While poverty and unemployment are more prevalent among people of color in the U.S., smartphone and new service adoption figures among those groups usually tracks alongside those of high-income people. In a follow-up email, Zickuhr explained that this could be a function of how small a part of the country's low-income population minority groups really are.

"A minority group like Hispanics does not represent a large enough group to strongly influence the overall smartphone adoption rate among lower income households, even if that minority group has a lower median income as a whole," she said in the email. "Additionally, many lower income Americans are 1) older and 2) rural, both groups with very low adoption rates, which drive down the overall adoption rates for lower income groups."

This post has been updated.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

NY Study Shows How Freedom of Information Can Inform Open Data

On New York State's open data portal, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has around 40 data resources of varying sizes, such as maps of lakes and ponds and rivers, bird conservation areas and hiking trails. But those datasets do not include several data resources that are most sought after by many New York businesses, a new study from advocacy group Reinvent Albany has found. Welcome to a little-discussed corner of so-called "open government"--while agencies often pay lip service to the cause, the data they actually release is sometimes nowhere close to what is most wanted. GO

Responding to Ferguson, Activists Organize #NMOS14 Vigils Across America In Just 4 Days

This evening peaceful crowds will gather at more than 90 locations around the country to honor the victims of police brutality, most recently the unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday. A moment of silence will begin at 20 minutes past 7 p.m. (EST). The vigils are being organized almost entirely online by the writer and activist Feminista Jones (@FeministaJones), with help from others from around the country who have volunteered to coordinate a vigil in their communities. Organizing such a large event in only a few days is a challenge, but in addition to ironing out basic logistics, the National Moment of Silence (#NMOS14) organizers have had to deal with co-optation, misrepresentation, and Google Docs and Facebook pages that are, apparently, buckling under traffic.

GO

wednesday >

NDI Launches Open Source DemTools for International Development

Yesterday the National Democratic Institute launched a suite of web-based applications created for their partner organizations, mostly pro-democracy groups and political parties around the world. These “DemTools,” which are ready-to-use but can also be customized, will give organizations in developing countries some of the capabilities that political activists and parties in the United States have had for years. Moreover, since the National Democratic Institute (NDI) is making the promise to host partner organization's applications in the cloud essentially forever, they hope these applications will help usher in a period of more sustainable tech.

GO

More