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‘Girls Around Me’ App Pulled Amid Privacy Concerns

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Screen grab from the "Girls Around Me" website. (Credit: girlsaround.me)

Screen grab from the “Girls Around Me” website. (Credit: girlsaround.me)

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SEATTLE (CBS Seattle) — A controversial iPhone application called “Girls Around Me” has been pulled from the virtual shelves by its creator after the public deemed it a breach of privacy.

The app allowed its user to find girls who had checked in to businesses and other pinpointed locations by finding and funneling the data publicly available on their Facebook pages and Foursquare accounts.

“In the mood for love, or just after a one-night stand?” the app’s website states. “‘Girls Around Me’ puts you in control! Reveal the hottest nightspots, who’s in them, and how to reach them.”

The app, made by Russian app producer iFree Innovations, was previously available on iTunes.

It was reportedly marketed as a way to “find out where girls or guys are hanging out,” according to a report from PCWorld.

However, it quickly drew criticism and concern as a tool that could potentially be used to stalk people, especially women.

John Brownlee from the Cult of Mac was reportedly able to test out the app before it went dark.

When he found an attractive woman on it, the app then gave him the woman’s full name, age, birthday, marital status, political views, and perhaps most invasive, her exact location at that moment.

In a statement released to the Wall Street Journal, iFree Innovations feels it did nothing wrong, despite pulling the app of its own volition, because “‘Girls Around Me’ cannot show the user more data than [a] social network already does.”

“[W]e believe it is unethical to pick a scapegoat to talk about the privacy concerns. We see this wave of negative as a serious misunderstanding of the apps’ [sic] goals, purpose, abilities and restrictions,” the statement given to the Wall Street Journal read. “‘Girls Around Me’ does not provide any data that is unavailable to user when he uses his or her social network account, nor does it reveal any data that users did not share with others.”

The statement also asserted that the app was downloaded more than 70,000 times.

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