‘Girls Around Me’ is the latest app that is causing waves in the social networking world. It was developed by the Russian firm i-Free, and has already been downloaded over 70,000 times.
The thing that has people all a-flutter is the almost stalker-ish tendencies ‘Girls Around Me’ promotes.
Users must download the app and link it in via Foursquare- a social networking site that allows people to share their locations on a virtual map. People can also choose to link their Foursquare accounts to their Facebook accounts when they sign up.
People then ‘check-in’ at venues using their smartphones to broadcast their location to fellow Foursquare users. The ‘Girls Around Me’ app links in to the Foursquare account to display who with a Foursquare account is in the vicinity, along with all the information and photographs made public on both accounts.
Some would argue that there is nothing wrong with this app, and that i-Free is being unfairly targeted. It is true that in order for ‘Girls Around Me’ to work effectively, one would have to own a Foursquare account- along with all the implications that comes with.
As with any social networking site, some information is always public. Typically it consists of your name, photograph, and date of birth. It is readily available to anyone who cares to browse through Facebook, so why should it be any different for this app?
Well the fact is it is different. It’s one thing to broadcast your location on Foursquare where the expectation is that anyone who sees it is safely behind a computer, or miles away from you. But when someone is using your Foursquare updates to track your movements that pushes this app into the stalker-category. No-one wants to be confronted by a complete stranger, waving a smartphone, and yelling that he knows who you are.
In light of this, Foursquare has cut access to the ‘Girls Around Me’ app, saying it violated the ‘aggregating information across venues’ policy. Developers have also removed it from the Apple itunes store, however, they say the removal is temporary. The app will be modified to show only public places and venues, and then will be put back up for public consumption.