April 2, 2012
Controversial Girl-Locating App Loses Foursquare Support
The app in question is named Girls Around Me, and according to MSNBC.com technology blogger Suzanne Choney, it allowed users to locate nearby females as long as their Facebook profiles were publicly visible and they had checked in to nearby locations using Foursquare.However, on Friday, Foursquare cut off the app developer's access to their data, citing violations of their application program interface (API) policy.
"This is a violation of our API policy, so we´ve reached out to the developer and shut off their API access," Foursquare℠s Laura Covington told John Brownlee of Cult of Mac.
When asked to elaborate on exactly how Girls Around Me, which was created by a Russian developer named i-Free the company told Brownlee, "We have a policy against aggregating information across venues using our API, to prevent situations like this where someone would present an inappropriate overview of a series of locations."
The app has been roundly criticized by the media. Cult of Mac referred to it as "creepy" and MSNBC.com called it "shady" and "stalker-like." However, as PCMag.com's Damon Poeter counters, "the problem isn't so much Girls Around Me as it is the huge numbers of people who simply don't take care to protect their privacy while participating in social networking“¦ Before getting booted by FourSquare, the app itself wasn't doing anything but pulling publicly available data together–a perfectly legit enterprise that's also perfectly creepy in the wrong hands."
The app's developers, i-Free, also defended themselves and their work in a statement sent to and published by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Saturday, emphasizing that, as Poeter said, the app cannot be used anonymously and that the program only collects data that was publicly available on both Facebook and Foursquare.
"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," the company said in that statement, adding that the app "does not have access" to a user's login information, that it only displays information that can also be found using the Foursquare app itself, and that the goal of Girls Around Me "is to make the usage of this data more convenient and more focused on finding popular and crowded venues."
Choney reports that Girls Around Me remained available for download on the Apple App Store as of Saturday, and Brownlee reports that Facebook told Cult of Mac that they were also in the process of investigating the app.