How to get each Foursquare badge

Berlin - You don't even need Facebook messages to communicate with the Internet world. A quick check-in is enough - it is already public which restaurant you are sitting in or which film you are watching. Practical network or data protection disaster?

Check-In, the word has two meanings in the Duden: "Checking in the passenger" or "Registering the guest in the hotel". This means that the dictionary is not up to date with the Internet language. Today, many people use their smartphones to "check in" at the Italian restaurant around the corner, in the new cocktail bar, in the hardware store or at the train station.

This is made possible by geospatial services such as Foursquare. Members announce where they are via the social network - they check in, as Foursquare calls it. They also comment on and take photos of places and make their tips and warnings available to other users. Foursquare claims that it has more than 30 million members, and they report where they are several million times a day. Facebook also has such a function, since autumn 2011 users have been able to announce their location via check-in.

While the public worries that secret services are secretly tapping data, people here voluntarily and in real time reveal how they lead their lives. Because you can check in with the recently discovered type of beer or the current episode of the "Simpsons" using special apps. “Untappd” is the name of an app for beer lovers, “iSwig” for cocktail fans. Whether you have already seen the latest episode of the TV series "Game of Thrones" is announced via "Miso" or "GetGlue", for example. Apps like "SoundTracking" make public what sounds from the speakers at home.

In order to encourage their users to share, the apps rely on the play instinct. Many reward hardworking checkers with virtual badges. After 50 check-ins, you are “superstar” at Foursquare, and anyone who has been to the gym a few times can call themselves “Gym Rat”. Whoever checks in at a location most often becomes its virtual “mayor” on Foursquare. Who doesn't want to be the online boss of their local pub?

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Privacy advocates are not comfortable with this idea. "I warn against this because I don't even know who is seeing this information," says Thomas Spaeing from the professional association of data protection officers. The association supports data protection officers in companies and authorities in their work. Users should bear in mind that the data will be processed and used for advertising, warns the IT security expert: “If I eat a burger, will I be interested in antihypertensive pills?” In fact, the specialist magazine “AdAge” reported that Foursquare is starting with it To advertise. If you check in at a bar, a beverage manufacturer can recommend a drink.

But users like blogger Daniel Rehn see a big advantage: the apps work like rating portals. Tips from other Foursquare users would have brought him wonderful experiences and saved him from nasty mistakes, writes Rehn. In his opinion, the network puts most travel guides in his pocket. Miso, Untappd and Co. work on the same principle: I'll tell you what I do and how it was - like among friends, only in a larger network.

Journalist and blogger Mario Sixtus can also be constantly looked over his shoulder online. Everyone can see where they are at WoistSixtus.com. The project is "a kind of response to all the hysteria and panic that regularly swept through the media and office coffee kitchens in Germany when a new technology appeared," he explains. He can deactivate the location, but so far his experiences have been consistently positive. For example, acquaintances spontaneously volunteered for a meeting when they saw that Sixtus was in their area.

dpa