Thursday, April 12, 2012

“He’s become obsessed with this app. It’s creepy.”

I sputtered, I nevered, and I denied it, but it was true. I had become obsessed with Girls Around Me, an app that perfectly distills many of the most worrying issues related to social networking, privacy and the rise of the smartphone into a perfect case study that anyone can understand.

Girls Around Me is a standard geolocation based maps app, similar to any other app that attempts to alert you to things of interest in your immediate vicinity…

Girls Around Me went into radar mode, and after just a few seconds, the map around us was filled with pictures of girls who were in the neighborhood.

“How does it know where these girls are? Do you know all these girls? Is it plucking data from your address book or something?” another friend asked.

“Not at all. These are all girls with publicly visible Facebook profiles who have checked into these locations recently using Foursquare. Girls Around Me then shows you a map where all the girls in your area trackable by Foursquare area. If there’s more than one girl at a location, you see the number of girls there in a red bubble. Click on that, and you can see pictures of all the girls who are at that location at any given time. The pictures you are seeing are their social network profile pictures.”

It has been a while since I’ve had a Facebook rant. Mostly because my own Facebook profile is effectively sealed, never updated and I never accept friend requests. Anyone who would like to connect and who knows or knew me can do so via LinkedIn.

But this article has set me off. Social media is great for many things, but what every user needs to understand is that these companies are not only using your personal information to sell you stuff, they are selling or giving it away to anyone who downloads the API for the purpose of developing and applications that linked to the social media site.

Girls Around Me is gone for now, but any technically adept and twisted stalker could create his own.



Anonymous Anonymous said...


Just wanted to let you know I've read your blog since 2005. I think I've gotten off reading more of your post than doing my girlfriend. Thanks for the good times.

9:19 PM  
Anonymous VJ said...

Agreed, this is why I never went for all this privacy stealing stuff. Cheers, 'VJ'

2:40 PM  

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