The “Girls Around Me” App: A Great Demonstration on Why You Should Lock Down Your Data

Posted on April 1, 2012

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If  you or your loved ones use Facebook or other social media, here’s the best argument yet for locking your accounts down to friends only, and revealing nothing publicly.  “Girls Around Me” is exactly what it sounds like: a program that finds girls near your location.  As John Brownlee of Cult of Mac reports, the app uses publicly available Facebook data, including pictures and names, combines that with GPS location data posted via Foursquare from their smartphones, and displays it on a handy little map.  Great for stalkers, perverts, and weirdos, huh?

Fortunately, Foursquare opined that the application went too far, and has blocked “Girls Around Me” from accessing their data.  The application is still available from Apple, but its teeth are effectively pulled.  Thanks, Foursquare.

Okay, Apple:  Just what were you thinking?  How did this seem like a good idea?  Your app approval process is notoriously difficult and lengthy, littered with inexplicable rejections, and yet this creep-assist program made it through somehow?  Did you learn nothing from the fiasco over your apps that warned drivers about DUI checkpoints?  Come on, Apple.  Is there no common sense in that approval process?

If you haven’t already clicked through to John Brownlee’s article about this, I recommend that you check it out.  As he concludes, Apple is not actually doing anything wrong; the app only compiles data that the users themselves are making publicly available.  Still, the potential for abuse was of enough concern for Foursquare to cut themselves out of it entirely, and that was probably the right call.  Imagine the hue and cry (and liability) if some rapist actually did use this as a tool to find potential victims, or an abusive boyfriend used it as a tool to stalk his victim.

The best use for this app, writes Brownlee, is as a demonstration of just how vulnerable we all are when we leave a lot of our personal information littered about on various social networking sites.  If you have loved ones who do a lot of social networking on the internet – show them Brownlee’s article.

Originally published at The Color of Lila.

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