(Used to Be) Easy to Cheat on Foursquare


Since I wrote this post three months ago, Foursquare has made their system stricter. You cannot do rapid-fire checkins and have to actually be near the venue. Nevertheless, I thought this was a pretty amusing post, so I’m putting it up anyways.

I just signed up for Foursquare and checked in several times to generate some data to experiment with their API. It’s easy to cheat.

I downloaded their free app onto my iPod Touch and checked into about six places, one of which was 16.7 miles away, without getting out of bed. If I were actually trying to play Foursquare as a game, I’d lose interest quickly. Not because the points and the badges and mayorships aren’t cool, but because it’s too easy to cheat.

There were funny prizes and tips I found on Foursquare. I searched nearby places, found a venue titled “BigDaddy’sLoveShack” (latitude: 40.82149 longitude: -73.955961), and checked in from my room. Foursquare gave me seven points and congratulated me on my first strip club checkin. After I left BigDaddy’sLoveShack, I checked into “Chico’s BoomBoom room.”

Then I searched for nightlife venues nearby and found the listing for a local gay bar. The tip left by user Holden K. stated, “Yeah…sleep with Trevor but be sure to bring the magnums!!!!”

At least it’s not easy to defraud Foursquare by falsely claiming a venue as your own business. I tried claiming BigDaddy’sLoveShack. Foursqare asked me for a business phone number so that they can “attempt to match that number against a national busines phone number database.”

So I tried another method: “We can send you a verification code by mail at the address above. The envelope you receive will contain…instructions for completing the verification process” or you can say the address listed is incorrect and submit your version. Then they say they’ll have a human being look into it. I haven’t heard back yet.