Some 18% of smartphone owners use geosocial or “check-in” services like Foursquare, up from 12% in May 2011. This works out to 10% of all adults (up from 4% in May 2011).
While there are still some differences in geosocial use among smartphone owners of different demographic groups, the differences are not as strong as they were in May 2011. Among smartphone owners, the most striking differences in usage are still by age group: Some 23% of young adults ages 18-29 use geosocial services (up from 18% in 2011), compared with 14% of smartphone owners 50 and older (up from 2% in 2011).
Unlike as with location-based information services, smartphone owners with lower household incomes are somewhat more likely to use these services than those in higher-income households. There are no significant differences among smartphone owners by race or ethnicity.
Recent changes in the geosocial landscape
Since our previous survey, Facebook ended its mobile location-sharing service “Facebook Places” and shifted its focus to using a general location “layer” that runs throughout its other services. In this set-up, location is yet another piece of information that can be “tagged” on to another piece of content, like a name or date, as opposed to a stand-alone service. (In May 2011, we found that 14% of social media users used automatic location-tagging on their posts.) Facebook acquired the mobile geosocial service Gowalla in December 2011, and the service ended in early 2012.