Foursquare at UB: Check in and Reap Rewards


Walk into the Student Union, check in. Walk into Capen Library, check in. Walk into Knox, check in. Christina Pinzone continually updates where she is on campus with one goal in mind - to become the mayor of UB.

Pinzone, a junior mechanical engineering major, is the reigning mayor of the Student Union. She uses foursquare to record her whereabouts in hopes of becoming the mayor: the person who has the most check-ins in a certain area in the past 60 days, according to foursquare.com.

Pinzone has seen the rewards that checking in can bring, and a growing community at UB is learning about Foursquare, too. It's not only about receiving a gold crown icon indicating 'mayor' next to her username that drives Pinzone to constantly check in with her location. Being mayor of an area offers financial benefits as well. At certain bars and restaurants, the mayor receives a certain percentage off his or her bill or buy-one-get-one-free beers, according to Pinzone.

Besides discounts, Foursquare makes it simple for people to keep up with their friends' locations. But this sometimes comes with a price.

"There are consequences to having everyone you know be aware of where you are and what you're doing at all hours of the day," said an anonymous UB student. "Stalker exes showing up where you're at out of the blue and claiming it's just chance. No one needs to be in my business like that."

Foursquare was created to satisfy the desires of those who constantly need to know where friends are currently residing. According to the application's website, it is: "a free app for your phone that makes the world easy to use."

Foursquare was created in 2009 by co-founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai with the intentions of making activities like going out or keeping up with friends more convenient. Today there are over 15 million users worldwide with over 1.5 billion check-ins, according to foursquare.com.

"I've been taking classes year-round for the past two and a half years," Pinzone said. "I check in on weekends, when I come to print something up. I'm here literally six to seven days of the week. If it weren't for that I wouldn't be mayor."

While Foursquare provides privacy settings, they don't always work and people don't always use them.

Kiara Robinson, a senior occupational science major, thinks that people don't need to be constantly updated on her whereabouts. She believes Foursquare is just another tool for stalking friends and acquaintances.

Social networks have proven to be a platform to compete for attention and, because of the system of rewards, Foursquare has the potential to be a popular way of networking, according to Michael Stefanone, an assistant professor of communication.

Users of Foursquare are able to not only share their location with friends, but they are also able to share photos, comments, and opinions on the places they visit the most. With all of this information, Foursquare is also able to recommend places to go based on interest shared. Businesses are also eager to provide Foursquare users with coupons and discounts, hoping that people will come to check in at their locations, spreading their businesses.

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