Girls Around Me mobile app withdrawn due to safety concerns
Girls Around Me, the controversial mobile app which allowed users to find nearby women and access their full name, photos, and send them messages, has been taken off the market due to safety concerns.
The application worked by taking GPS data from Foursquare and searched for women in the immediate area who have also checked in on the location-based mobile service.
The mobile app, made by Russian company iFree Innovations, was previously available on iTunes.
The app’s less-than-careful data sharing had caused considerable concern last week, with many lambasting the app for making stalking easy and taking advantage of those who don’t understand privacy policies of social media.
Girls Around Me required the users permission to link the app to their personal Facebook account.
Once downloaded, the app asked for the user’s Facebook log in, pictures, basic information including gender and age, as well as photos and email addresses.
It also asked permission to run even when the app itself was closed, thus allowing Girls Around Me to collect location data at all times. The app’s website advertised that Girls Around Me “puts you in control!”.
It continued: “Reveal the hottest nightspots, who’s in them, and how to reach them…” It also says that users can easily find “love” or “a one-night stand”.
Though the initial app download was free, users had to pay $0.99 for every “energy pack”, to search for nearby women at an accelerated rate.
iFree Innovations made the decision to pull the app. The company told the Wall Street Journal: “[W]e believe it is unethical to pick a scapegoat to talk about the privacy concerns.
“We see this wave of negative as a serious misunderstanding of the apps’ [sic] goals, purpose, abilities and restrictions.”
The app was downloaded more than 70,000 times before it was taken down, according to the creators.
Stanford lecturer Elizabeth Stark told the New York Times’ Bits blog that the application required far too much information.
“This would be a very different application if it didn’t link back to Facebook, which is a treasure trove of information,” she said.
“With that link, this app could easily be a <<let’s stalk women>> app.”
Popular Apple blog Cult of Mac described the app a “wake-up call about privacy”.