Should you be checking in on Foursquare?

When I was writing the post yesterday about Foursquare users, I edited out a section that was related but off point. But it lives on here.

A while ago, Rohit Bhargava pondered aloud if announcing your travel locations was a privacy leak. About a month ago, Jennifer Leggio posted about privacy loopholes and considerations before checking in. A couple weeks ago, my colleague Tom Cummings asked “What company will be first to say that employees aren’t allowed to check-in while on the job?

So I wonder, just because you can check in on Foursquare, should you?

Consider these situations:

  • The mayor of a busy airport who is a public transit bus driver
  • A person who checks in to every train station along the journey of daily commuter rail trips
  • A sales person checks in to a prospect’s office during a sales call

Adam Cohen told me about a couple more:

  • The mayor of a newly opened restaurant turns out to be the restaurant’s manager
  • The mayor of a bank branch is a teller

I’m not sure these use cases are what the founders had in mind. One set of behaviors appears to sabotage a loyalty mechanism. Another may breach competitive data. And the third is like dogs running through a neighborhood, marking the same territory one after the other.

Users do what they want and “unintended” uses often surface interesting emergent outcomes. So is there really ever a wrong way to be using Foursquare? Have you heard of any odd or intriguing check-in situations?

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