Girls Around Me app leaves Apple Store after ‘stalking’ fiasco

2 Apr 2012

Screengrab of the Girls Around Me homepage, taken a few minutes ago

The geolocation iPhone app Girls Around Me, which lets people seek out girls and guys in their area using data from sites such as Facebook and Foursquare, has voluntarily withdrawn from the Apple App Store, after a flurry of controversy about the app pertaining to privacy and stalking.

App developer i-Free Innovations is behind the Girls Around Me app. On its homepage, the app is described as a “revolutionary new city scanner app that turns your town into a dating paradise!”

The app appeared to have hoped to create a new type of dating service for iPhone users of the app, so they could seek out people that caught their eye, based on the garnering of publically available data from Facebook and Foursquare.

Foursquare shut down the app’s access to its API on Saturday after a flurry of controversy about user privacy and that the app would become a breeding ground for those with a tendency to stalk.

On its site, Girls Around Me said it displays user photographs and profiles, giving people the facility to contact an individual directly from the app who might be out in a club near them, for instance.

In a statement from i-Free Innovations, which was published by the Wall Street Journal yesterday, the company said 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 restriction,” said i-Free Innovations.

The company went on to say it follows the geo-social trend for mobile devices that is supported by other location-sharing services, networks and apps.

“Girls Around Me does not allow anonymous usage of the app. It is impossible to search for a particular person in this app, or track his/her location. The app just allows the user to browse the venues nearby, as if you passed by and looked in the window,” added the company in the statement.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic