When you enter a restaurant at this year's SXSW, Foursquare's new Hipertrending feature will know. Your phone will be displayed as a point on a live map that literally anyone in Austin, Texas, can access. And the co-founder and CEO of Foursquare, Dennis Crowley, just wants to know: do you think that idea is creepy or not?
"If this scares people, we do not build things with it," Crowley TechCrunch said, speaking of the fact that he has apparently already done it in SXSW.
Note that Hypertrending is anonymous in the sense that no one should be able to identify exactly who is inside a restaurant or bar. It is designed to allow other Foursquare users to see which stores are popular, but in the past they are more visual than the Foursquare trend metrics. As more people enter, the circle gets bigger, which indicates "Hey, this place is happening right now!" That seems potentially useful.
But Hypertrending has some practical problems: a restaurant may not seem too busy in the application. but it could be flooded with people who do not use Foursquare. In theory, it could also pose a security risk, since you can see how many people (or how few) are packaged in a space. In case something bad happens, not only Foursquare users will be affected. And that is not to count on the possibilities of abuse if Foursquare or its partners end up tracking people in a less than totally anonymous way, it is not that we are suggesting that they do so.
Foursquare does not roll the show even further than Austin, Texas, but does not need to wait to tell the Foursquare boss what he should and know in his heart to be true. It is rare that technology companies warn us so much in advance, so this is your chance to tell Foursquare if the Hypercendence feature is for you.