Facebook Checkins And Free WiFi
November 2, 2012

Facebook To Allow Companies To Trade Likes For Wi-Fi Access

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

In a sort of “you scratch my back, I scratch your back, then we scratch this other guy´s back” move, Facebook is said to be experimenting with a way to offer Wi-Fi to local businesses to offer to customers in exchange for a check-in.

This new system is said to be in a small testing phase right now with Facebook providing the router to the businesses, who have to provide their own Internet access on the backend.

In this new setup, whenever customers visit one of these businesses and access the Wi-Fi, they´ll be sent to that business´s Facebook page. If the customer checks-in to the location, they´ll be able to browse the web for free on the business´s network. The businesses stand to benefit by earning extra page likes and check-ins from these customers. They´ll also be able to make the customers aware of special deals and discounts. For the cost of some virtual admiration, genuine or not, the customers will be granted free Wi-Fi and could even take advantage of said deal and discounts. This kind of system is an easy way for Facebook to boost their check-ins and get more people using this service.

This new arrangement is described by InsideFacebook.com, who claims a developer first noticed mention of this deal in the Insight API.

Tom Waddington, the developer who first discovered Facebook´s “want” button as well as the possibility of promoted messages within Facebook brought this new system to the attention of InsideFacebook.com. According to Waddington, the entry tucked away in the API is labeled “social wifi” and has been given the explanation “People who liked your page after checking in via Facebook Wi-Fi.”

Facebook has confirmed that they´re testing this new arrangement now, saying, “We are currently running a small test with a few local businesses of a Wi-Fi router that is designed to offer a quick and easy way to access free Wi-Fi after checking in on Facebook. When you access Facebook Wi-Fi by checking in, you are directed to your local business´s Facebook Page.”

Access to free Wi-Fi is all well and good, but what about those potential customers who avoid Facebook like the plague? The social network has taken this into consideration and will allow these customers to access the Wi-Fi network as well...but not without having to obtain the password from the business first.

According to CNET, this social Wi-Fi idea came from one of Facebook´s “Hackathons,” an event where computer programmers and app developers are invited to Facebook´s campus to program and hack their way through the evening.

These Hackathons are central to Facebook´s core culture and the company has used ideas which have sprung from these events in the past. The Like button, for instance, has its roots in Hackathons, as well as Facebook messenger and video chats. However, for all the ideas which have been conceived in the midst of a Hackathon, not all of them have been brought to life. Therefore, this social Wi-Fi idea may or may not stick around long enough to come to fruition.