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Facebook swaps Wi-Fi for check-ins from SME customers

Social networking site Facebook is offering firms free Wi-Fi in exchange for directing customers to a Facebook page

Facebook has been carrying out trials with local businesses, exchanging free Wi-Fi for check-ins on the social network.

The project is called Social Wi-Fi and sees Facebook offer a small number of firms routers and free Wi-Fi if they direct their customers to log on to their Facebook page.

From the page, customers are encouraged to “check in” to show they have visited the business in question.

A spokeswoman from Facebook said: “We are currently running a small test with a few local businesses of a 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.”

The spokeswoman also told Computer Weekly it was only “a very local test” in the Palo Alto/Menlo Park areas of Silicon Valley. However, she would not reveal whether it planned larger scale roll-outs for the scheme and refused to comment on its success so far.

The deal would be mutually beneficial for Facebook and the businesses involved, as not only would the company get free Wi-Fi and raise its profile, Facebook would gather valuable marketing information on its users.

Those customers without Facebook accounts are still able to access the Wi-Fi via a password held by the business owner, in the same way as many Wi-Fi hotspots currently operate.

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