In Defense of Foursquare
Yesterday SmartBrief on Social Media asked the unnecessarily hysterical question “Will Foursquare ever grow up?”. Foursquare was founded less than a year ago; I’m pretty sure they’ve got time.
The hand wringing was in response to a TechCrunch piece reporting that some users are taking umbrage to the ‘risqué’ badges awarded for using the service at particular venues, particularly the Douchebag badge. Suffice to say, there are many elements to this story that make me wish I could award some risqué badges of my own.
First the original complaint:
- Has it occurred to the too-cool-for-school hipsters at foursquare that unlocking a “douchebag” badge for your fans because they check in at places like Barneys might:
1. Be insulting to your users, especially if have chosen to share their badges with friends and
2. Might also be insulting to your future customers and business partners like Barneys?
Total FAIL, guys. Who are you to judge what your customers like and don’t like?
It seems to have escaped the complainer that Foursquare is a social networking service - and that the “too-cool-for-school hipsters” are actually a community willingly participating in a game which includes the unlocking of badges – Douchebag included. Considering Foursquare user growth is 45- 50% each month, I’d say they’ve judged very accurately what customers like, and this particular user probably should’ve done a little research before jumping on the bandwagon.
“Lack of research” quickly becomes a recurring theme as the article references another thread in which a user posted that they were “surprised” to have unlocked the badge. Given the considerable amount of documentation on the acquisition of badges I can only assume that this is another user who blithely started using the service without reading the manual.
TechCrunch’s writer then joins the party by breathlessly sharing with the reader how he has his Foursquare account set up to auto-tweet when new badges are unlocked and the previous night he unlocked the badge and it - gasp! - automatically tweeted out to all his followers.
That’s right. He knowingly linked his Foursquare and Twitter accounts then elected to auto-tweet any new badges but considers it some kind of cautionary tale that this is exactly what happened.
I do not believe that this “brings up an interesting dilemma for Foursquare.” I do believe that it highlights an increasingly concerning issue for society in general which is that people apparently take no responsibility for their own online activity. For those people I provide the following summary:
- You don’t have to use Foursquare.
- You don’t have to add people to your Foursquare network who would find this offensive.
- You don’t have to link your Foursquare account to Twitter.
- If you do link to Twitter, can turn those auto-tweets off.
There. Maybe now we grown-ups can enjoy Foursquare in peace.