Creepy app wants to make Facebook stalking way too easy

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This app takes Facebook stalking to an all-new level.
This app takes Facebook stalking to an all-new level.
Photo: Facezam

Stalking complete strangers on Facebook is about to become as easy as snapping a pic thanks to a new facial recognition app.

Launching later this month, Facezam promises to be able to identify people by matching a photo to a person’s Facebook profile. If it works as well as advertised, it might be time to kiss your anonymity goodbye.

‘Girls Around Me’ Dev: Our App’s Not For Stalking Women, It’s For Avoiding The Ugly Ones [Exclusive Interview]

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Cult of Mac interviews Girls Around Me developer i-Free about the controversy surrounding their app.
Cult of Mac interviews Girls Around Me developer i-Free about the controversy surrounding their app.

Last week, we stirred up a maelstrom of controversy when we posted about Girls Around Me, an iOS app that allowed you to locate and view publicly available information on women in any area.

Since we posted the story, over half a million people have come to our site to read about the app, over 65,000 people have shared it on Facebook, and leading publications at home and abroad have followed our lead in reporting on the app, which we described as not just as a potential tool for rapists and stalkers that was putting thousands of women at risk without their knowledge, but a wake-up called about privacy.

Girls Around Me has since been pulled from the iTunes App Store, but considering we were the ones who stirred up so much trouble for the app’s Russian-based developer, i-Free, I thought we would reach out and give them the opportunity to set the record straight. What was i-Free thinking when they released this app? What do they make of the controversy surrounding it? Do they have any regrets? And will Girls Around Me come back?

i-Free’s responses to these questions might prove to be just as controversial as the app itself. The company denies having done anything wrong. They say it is “impossible” to stalk or track someone with their app. They say that the point of the app is just as much about avoiding ugly women on a night out as it is about looking for love. And they’re not sorry.

Why Foursquare Really Killed Creepy Stalking App ‘Girls Around Me’

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Foursquare doesn't ever want you thinking about not doing this, but maybe you should.
Foursquare doesn't ever want you thinking about not doing this. That's why you definitely should.

Stop Apps From Tracking You Without Your Knowledge Using Foursquare And Facebook [How-To]

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Cult of Mac interviews Girls Around Me developer i-Free about the controversy surrounding their app.
Creepy stalking apps aren't going anywhere, but you can cut off their sources

Thanks to a great article by our own John Brownlee, we now know how easy it is for apps and people to stalk you using location-sharing services like FourSquare and Facebook. And now the more paranoid among you might be wondering, just how do I turn these things off?

Theoretically, you would have already checked the privacy settings when you signed up. But that’s like reading the manual before you switch on a new gadget: Almost nobody ever does it. So here’s a quick guide to locking down FourSquare, and a rather more involved guide to shutting down Facebook.

Girls Around Me Dev: We Didn’t Do Anything Wrong [Statement]

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Girls Around Me dev i-Free says the app isn't meant to allow you to stalk girls. That's not what the app's website says.
Girls Around Me dev i-Free says the app isn't meant to allow creeps to stalk girls. That's not what the app's website says.

Our Story Got Foursquare To Kill API Access To Creepy Stalking App Girls Around Me [Update: Facebook Responds]

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Notorious girl tracking app Girls Around Me had its API cut-off by Facebook in response to Cult of Mac's story earlier today.
Notorious girl tracking app Girls Around Me had its API cut-off by Facebook in response to Cult of Mac's story earlier today.

This Creepy App Isn’t Just Stalking Women Without Their Knowledge, It’s A Wake-Up Call About Facebook Privacy [Update]

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girlsaroundme
This app is meant to all be in good fun, but it's potentially a weapon in the hands of stalkers.

“Boy, you sure have a lot of apps on your phone.”

“Well, it’s my job.”

“What’s your favorite?”

“Oh, I couldn’t choose. But hey, want to see one to set your skin crawling?”

It was the flush end of a pleasurably hot day — 85 degrees in March — and we were all sipping bitter cocktails out in my friend’s backyard, which was both his smoking room, beer garden, viticetum, opossum parlor and barbecue pit. I was enjoying the warm dusk with a group of six of my best friends, all of whom seemed interested, except for my girlfriend… who immediately grimaced.

Girls Around Me? Again?” she scolded. “Don’t show them that.”

She turned to our friends, apologetically.

“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.

It’s an app that can be interpreted many ways. It is as innocent as it is insidious; it is just as likely to be reacted to with laughter as it is with tears; it is as much of a novelty as it has the potential to be used a tool for rapists and stalkers.

And more than anything, it’s a wake-up call about privacy.