Experiments examining the social dynamics of bacterial quorum sensing (QS) have focused on mutants which do not respond to signals, and the role of QS-regulated exoproducts as public goods. The potential for QS signal molecules to themselves be social public goods has received much less attention. Here, we analyse how signal-deficient (lasI-) mutants of the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa interact with wild-type cells in an environment where QS is required for growth. We show that when growth requires a 'private' intracellular metabolic mechanism activated by the presence of QS signal, lasI- mutants act as social cheats and outcompete signal-producing wild-type bacteria in mixed cultures, because they can use the signals produced by wild type cells. However, reducing the ability of signal molecules to diffuse through the growth medium, results in signal molecules becoming less accessible to mutants, leading to reduced cheating. Our results indicate that QS signal molecules can be considered as social public goods in a way that has been previously described for other exoproducts, but that spatial structuring of populations reduces exploitation by non-cooperative signal cheats.