bill-swift - April 3, 2012
Did you know that there are close to half a million apps in the iTunes App Store today? These range from productivity apps to games to image editing apps and so on and so forth. It's hard to distinguish specific apps in this huge and diverse pool unless it's extremely good--or extremely weird. One app that belongs to the latter category is Girls Around Me.
If you look at it in the positive sense, Girls Around Me can be used to meet new acquaintances, both men and women, who happen to be around the area where you're currently hanging out. In the negative sense, the app can be seen as a tool that potential stalkers and date rapists can use to prey on unsuspecting victims who may just be out looking to have a good time.
When you fire the app up, Girls Around Me brings up a Google Maps grid that centers around your location. It then parses through publicly-visible Facebook profiles and displays images of women who have used Foursquare to check into locations that are close to where you are. Blog posts highlighting the privacy concerns the app posed eventually went viral. Foursquare eventually cut off access to the app, which has since been pulled from the App Store.
Amid public outcry, the Russian developer behind the app, i-Free Innovations, insists that people are merely using Girls Around Me as "a scapegoat to talk about privacy concerns."
"We are absolutely convinced that it is good and important to educate the users to take care of their privacy and what they share publicly. But we 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' goals, purpose, abilities and restrictions.
Girls Around Me does not provide any data that is unavailable to user when he uses his or her social network account, nor does it reveal any data that users did not share with others."
-- i-Free Innovations
The developer is reportedly working on addressing all the feedback that they received with regards to the privacy issues that Girls Around Me raised.
Article by Hazel Chua
Gigadgetry: Cool Gadgets, Tech News, Quirky Devices
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