Creators of Stolen shut down iOS game amid privacy concerns among Twitter users

15 Jan 2016

The creators of the game Stolen, which lets users trade Twitter profiles like baseball cards, have shut the game down

A new iOS game that lets you trade real Twitter users’ profiles as if they were baseball cards or Monopoly money has been shut down by its creators amid rising concerns around privacy.

Stolen creators Hey Inc have shut down the game because it was leading to a clamour among privacy activists and concerned politicians.

The game lets users collect and trade their favourite people on Twitter as if they were Monopoly money by crunching publicly available data to assign monetary value to profiles.

The value of profiles would rise and fall depending on how many people were competing to “buy” them.

While the game was launched on an invite-only basis, word of its existence would emerge as users were informed that they were effectively “owned”, according to the game, as in the case of Gadgette tech journalist Holly Brockwell.

No one wants to be owned

The disconcerting effect of this no doubt rubbed people up the wrong way.

Hey Inc responded by creating an opt-out page that strangley required people to log into Twitter and authorise the app first.

However, that wasn’t enough and US Representative Katherine Clark wrote to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Apple CEO Tim Cook about how Stolen could be used to harass people.

In the end, Hey Inc announced that they have decided to shut the game down until further notice. The app is no longer available in the App Store. At the end of the day, no one likes to be “owned.”  

Stolen user image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years