Foursquare Develops Solution To Prevent Cheaters

Admit it; if you haven’t already done so, you’ve probably considered ‘gaming’ Foursquare on your smartphone and checking in to extra places, in hopes of getting yet another badge, possibly even a Mayor badge. Just this morning we covered one company, GetMayor, that charges for such services. After all, how would Foursquare know, given the ultimate accuracy of GPS? Well they do, and they’ve come up with a solution to stop Foursquare cheaters.

If you’ve used Foursquare, the location-sharing “check in” app that runs on multiple smartphones and other mobile devices, you know it’s set up as a bit of game. You visit some place — a cafe, bookstore, library, nightclub — and “check in” to announce your location as well as earn points towards various types of badges. Unfortunately, it has been easy for some people to fake check-ins and still earn Mayorship badges.

To combat that, Foursquare announced today that they’ll still let people check-in wherever and whenever, but they won’t award points if their algorithm determines that you didn’t earn them. How do they do that? Well they don’t go so far as to say how, beyond “using a few different tricks using your phone’s GPS to try to verify this” or “a few different tricks” for phones without GPS. I’m speculating, but they’re possibly triangulating all check-ins to whatever degree of accuracy they can determine, to see if there’s any change, however minute.

As mentioned, you can still check in whenever you want. For example, they’re still allowing pre-checkins (“I’m coming”) and post-checkins (when you forgot to check in at a place); you just won’t get any points. They admit there are still some problems with their solution and that they’re working on it. If you don’t get rewarded when you feel you should have, you can report the details.

Do you use Foursquare, MyTown, or any of the growing number of location-sharing apps? Have you ever faked a check-in, in the hopes of earning points?

Publish date: April 7, 2010 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT