Girls Around Me leaves App Store amid ‘stalking’ row
Controversial mobile app Girls Around Me allowed users to locate women near their location on a map and to see pictures of them.
The Girls Around Me app has been withdrawn from the App Store amid privacy concerns
By Matt Warman
The app used information drawn from publicly available profiles on Facebook and check-ins on location service FourSquare. The women involved were not asked for any consent, and did not know their information, including photos, were being displayed to strangers.
Girls Around Me’s access to location-sharing service Foursquare was withdrawn on Saturday after the company was told it was breaching terms and conditions by aggregating data.
The Russian app developer, i-Free Innovations, consequently withdrew the app from Apple’s App Store, and issued a statement to The Wall Street Journal. It claimed it was “unethical to pick a scapegoat to talk about the privacy concerns. We see this wave of negative as a serious misunderstanding of the apps’ goals, purpose, abilities and restrictions.”
The app’s website had claimed “Girls Around Me is the perfect complement to any pick-up strategy. And with millions of chicks checking in daily, there’s never been a better time to be on the hunt.”
Although the app has been at the centre of a storm of protest online, led by website Cult of Mac, it only used publicly available data. While a storm of protest surrounded its use to stalk women, many critics also pointed out that the app in fact highlighted how much information people either willingly or unknowingly made public about themselves online.
The app has been downloaded more than 70,000 times. i-Free said future development would continue but would only use check-ins for public venues.
“The app just allows the user to browse the venues nearby, as if you passed by and looked in the window,” claimed i-Free.