Hey Foursquare! I Just Abstained. Got a Badge for That?


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Have you heard the latest?  Partnering with MTV, Foursquare recently announced a brand new badge to let the world know you’re checking in to be tested for STD’s. According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, when people following MTV on Foursquare unlock the GYT (get yourself tested) Badge, they become eligible to win a trip to New York City and backstage passes to an MTV show. The objectives? To encourage more people to get tested, and remove the stigma attached to it.

So, there’s a stigma attached to being tested for STD’s?  Honestly, I didn’t know that. I always thought the stigma was attached to actually having an STD. My bad.

No matter. Foursquare and MTV just may be onto something here. Foursquare already has quite an array of badges, ranging from the general, such as checking into a venue for the first time, to specialized badges for specific venues, as well as the coveted title of Mayor.  It’s a fun and competitive way to recommend places you frequent to others, and businesses are beginning to capitalize on Foursquare’s ever-increasing reach to bring customers through their doors. Given these uses, it stands to reason that Foursquare can evolve to promote responsible personal behavior.  And make no mistake, getting tested for STD’s is a wise decision for many.  Abstaining from the types of risky behaviors that lead to getting STD’s in the first place is even wiser. So where’s the love and equal time? I have my suspicions on that one, but that’s another Blog post for another day.

How about this: An IJA (I just abstained) Badge to encourage more young unmarrieds to abstain from sex, and remove the stigma attached from doing so openly. If a GYT badge can be an effective means of encouraging openness, detection and treatment for STD’s, (and that’s a big ‘If’)  who’s to say an IJA badge couldn’t work for the prevention side as well?

But back to being onto something: Consider the even broader spectrum of opportunities for badges that promote behavior that is responsible, moral, and for the general social good. How about badges for all types of medical tests and procedures: immunizations, mammograms, cancer screenings, giving blood, etc.  Badges for volunteerism such as mentoring, working in homeless shelters, donations of goods and services, etc., are another idea. These are but a few examples – the possibilities are mind boggling.

Foursquare’s opened a big door here, and stuck its foot just over the threshold. The question now is: Will they walk through it?

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