Girls Around Me app developed by Russian developer i-Free was an instant case for controversy.
Sourcing information of women from the location-based social networking website service Foursquare, the app gave real-time locations of women in a prescribed vicinity and also displayed information that was available on them on other social networking sites like Facebook. All of this, without these women knowing that sensitive information including their photographs were accessible to random strangers who downloaded the app.
With issues of privacy and legitimacy cropping up coupled with breach in terms and conditions by aggregating data, the company withdrew its app from the Apple App store on Saturday.
In a statement to the media issued by them, they 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 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.