Hey, why not make an app that scrapes Facebook and Foursquare for the locations of nearby women and plonks them on a map for you? Make it free, but charge users for “energy” to engage in their super-stalker ways. No, this is not me having you on — Girls Around Me, an app recently pulled from the app store, is exactly this.
The New York Times decided to give some page time to the app, developed by Russia-based “O.O.O. SMS Services” (though it also appears to go by “i-Free Innovations”).
The article mentioned the app’s apparent intrusiveness, requiring not only your Facebook login to raid your profile for all sorts of information (probably to populate its own database), but it also hits up the Foursquare API for the locations of people around you. By default, it looks for women, but the app lets you switch this to men, if you like.
After the piece was published, it didn’t take long for Foursquare to get in touch with the NYT. “This is a violation of our API policy, so we’ve reached out to the developer and shut off their API access,” a spokesperson for the company told the outlet. With its functionality likely gutted by this move, i-Free voluntarily withdrew the app from the App Store — but not before clocking 70,000 downloads from the stalker elite.
Talking to the Wall Stree Journal, i-Free stood by Girls Around Me:
[W]e believe it is unethical to pick a scapegoat to talk about the privacy concerns,” i-Free said. “We see this wave of negative as a serious misunderstanding of the apps’ goals, purpose, abilities and restrictions.”
As the WSJ points out, the developer makes the app’s reason for existing clear on its own website:
“Girls Around Me is the perfect complement to any pick-up strategy,” the app’s website says. “And with millions of chicks checking in daily, there’s never been a better time to be on the hunt.”
This particular snippet appears to have been removed from the site since the WSJ was published, but its legacy still appears in Google’s search results. Be on the hunt? That says it all, really.