This election day, there’s going to be more of a political shakeup than most pundits are predicting: Foursquare has enabled a new feature that is going to put faux mayorships to an end. We’ve confirmed with the hot location startup that it’s given verified businesses the ability to oust Mayors if they believe that their check-ins are fraudulen — once a business gives the cheater the boot, then the next-in-line instantly is awarded the Mayorship.
My boss — who has been using his fake check-ins to lead a double life of infiltrating board meetings and lingerie stores — is understandably distraught.
Since foursquare launched, the game has always had to deal with some degree of “cheating” — people like to check-in at places where they haven’t actually been. For the most part this is completely benign, but the more persistent cheaters have managed to attain the coveted ‘Mayor’ spot at venues that they rarely visit, which results in frustrated users who are playing the game by the rules.
But now these fake mayorships are starting to impact more than egos — businesses are increasingly giving special promotions to their Mayors, granting their most dedicated customers deals. But if nobody can earn those rewards, it obviously defeats the point. It was inevitable that Foursquare would have to address the issue eventually.
A Foursquare spokesperson says that the new feature is currently in early stages, and that it will probably be tweaked in the future:
Yesterday we gave verified business owners the ability to oust a Mayor if they have reason to believe the Mayorship was not gained through legitimate check-ins. If a Mayor is flagged by a business owner, they’ll be removed from office immediately and the next user in line will take over as Mayor.
We’re still in the very early stages of experimenting with this feature and will most likely be tweaking it based on feedback from business owners.
Foursquare started to crack down on these fake check-ins back in April when it began to take the user’s physical location into account (before then users could check-in from a hundred miles away). This is the next logical step, though I’m sure it won’t be long before we hear about users who were wrongfully ousted from their reign.