Foursquare, MTV Push STD Testing with Check-In Badge

Foursquare teams up with MTV to use the popular mobile social network application to reduce the spread of STDs and lessen the stigma of testing.

Foursquare, the location-based social network for mobile device users, and MTV are working together to reduce the spread of STDs by encouraging people to visit clinics, get tested and display an "STD-free" electronic badge in their Foursquare accounts.

"The badge can be unlocked by Foursquare users during the month of September if they check in at an STD testing location and shout 'GYT' when they check in," Foursquare spokesperson Erin Gleason wrote in an e-mail to eWEEK.

According to Gleason, this is the mobile service's first health-related badge.

"We're always interested in experimenting with new uses of the platform, and we love it when brands come to us with creative ideas like this one," she wrote.

The initiative is part of the GYT: Get Yourself Tested campaign by MTV, the Kaiser Family Foundation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Centers for Disease Control, launched in April 2009. The parties are looking to reduce transmission of STDs and also encourage testing for people under age 25.

"Through the power of Foursquare, our initiative can take a single personal action and amplify it into a rallying cry that can break down stigmas surrounding STD testing," Stephen Friedman, general manager of MTV, said in a statement.

Founded by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai in 2007, Foursquare allows users to notify friends when they've checked into a restaurant or other location. It's also a social nightlife game.

The initiative encourages Foursquare users to get tested during the month of September, follow MTV on Foursquare and then check in on Foursquare and unlock the MTV GYT badge.

Users that display the GYT badge can enter an MTV contest to win backstage passes to the network's pop-culture countdown show "10 on Top."

The Foursquare/MTV initiative is part of a growing trend to use mobile apps to further health-related causes. On Aug. 18 online-payment service PayPal introduced version 2.5 of its iPhone application, PayPal Mobile, which allows users to make mobile payments, including contributions to the American Cancer Society and UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund).

Meanwhile, other companies are challenging Foursquare in the geolocation space, including Google, Facebook and Gowalla. In June, Foursquare received $20 million in series B funding from Union Square Ventures, O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz.