Foursquare Cuts Off 'Girls Around Me', The World's Creepiest App

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.

[Wall Street Journal]

[New York Times]


Comments

    This is an April Fool's joke, right?

    Not that I want to defend the app, but this is all - by intent or more likely ignorance - public information. That's the real problem and people have been saying this about social networking and online privacy in general for a while now.

    It's important, even if you think you "don't have anything to hide".

      +1 David. My thoughts exactly. Although it's definitely a creepy concept, it's using info freely given.

      I love how people cry out 'Big Brother' or 'Stalker', after freely giving all their info. Noone can log onto a social network and see my current position through it, because I don't share it. Pretty simple, people.

      yup. on the spot. I wish I could like or +1 this

        No need to create a list for them.Go to your fidenrs list and find them individually, close to their names should be a tab saying what if they belong to any of your lists, click on the tab and select "Limited Profile" do this for all of them and they will all be on your limited profile list. Then go to privacy setting and select the kind of info is visible for the people on your "limited profile". You can select from just letting them see your wall posts, to just letting them see your picture and name.

        I use a combination. HIIT Intervals does the Galloway ilretvans for me, and Runkeeper has the GPS tracking of the distance, elevation, etc. I have also used SportyPal but I prefer RunKeeper. They have a website that autosyncs with your phone. I believe HIIT is free, and RunKeeper has a free version. I downloaded the Pro for free in January and I don't see much of a difference between free and Pro.I love using the phone, since I only have to carry one device for GPS, ilretvans, music, and emergency calls.

    I wouldn't really call it stalking stalking would be the actual stalker who has your Facebook and foursquare accounts and accomplishes the same thing already. This app seems to be more like a "that girls cute i wonder who she is" i wouldn't use this app but i couldn't see it actually enabling stalkers more than the private information these women spew on Facebook and other social sites already. If anything the marketing of the app is the only problem i really see with this app.

    So what's the problem?? It's a clever idea, and if people are dumb enough to use social networking (remember it's the internet) then they should understand what the "social" part means. Funny how big business exploits this information freely but that is somehow acceptable? The developers were stupid in that they linked to actual peoples profiles. I've thought of a very similar idea, but not as intrusive.

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