Local search heats up: Foursquare uses Facebook data

When Facebook threw its hat into the local search ring by updating its Facebook Nearby offering, search experts knew the battle for local search supremacy was just heating up. Along with the increased popularity of Yelp and the long-established history of Google, Bing and Yahoo, the local search competition has only gotten exponentially stronger.

To get ahead, the tech companies are starting to use one another as assets to their own offerings, signaling a potentially new and - considering the litigious nature of many tech companies - incendiary development that might set the local search industry ablaze.

Foursquare beefs offering with Facebook data
After Facebook's much anticipated dive into local search with Facebook Nearby, Foursquare countered the move with the announcement that it would heighten the personalization of its local search app "Foursquare Explore." The kicker? The company will use Foursquare activity from a user's Facebook friends to improve upon the recommendation made in Explore.

If users have synced Facebook and Foursquare accounts, their friends' public activity will then be used as a determining factor in what suggestions Explore makes even if users are not currently connected to their friends through the Foursquare app.

"The best recommendations often come from friends," Foursquare said in a blog post. "When you're looking for a burrito or how to spend your Saturday, Foursquare can show you the Mexican restaurants, coffee shops, and museums that your friends love. And, starting today, Foursquare will be even more personalized - with help from your Facebook friends. By expanding your recommendations to include your Facebook friends who are on Foursquare, you’ll get even better personalized insights when you’re deciding where to go."

Debuted on mobile, check-ins kept private
Another important aspect to the Foursquare power play is that the company didn't hold the new update exclusive to its desktop offering. The company also made a point to draw attention to the announcement that the revamped, Facebook data-fueled recommendation update is available on its iPhone and Android mobile offerings.

Foursquare also assured users' check-in activity will be kept private and not posted to Facebook without permission. Instead, it will take its cue from Facebook friends who write a tip, like a place or take public photos to help guide its new suggestion system.