Out of all the iOS apps to show up over the last few years, Girls Around Me has to be the creepiest. This newly released app allows users (men, mostly) to see if any girls are within the current vicinity. The app uses Foursquare check-ins to locate girls, but that’s not all the app does. Girls Around Me also provides quick and direct access to a girl’s Facebook page. So, not only can anyone see if a girl is, say, on the next street corner, but that person could also take a quick peek at a girl’s Facebook page, find out what her favorite food or book is, and then strike up a conversation.
As creepy as that sounds, there’s an even creepier aspect to this app. Consider just how easy it would be for anyone to stalk a girl discovered through this app. Like the way a girl looks? Her Facebook page could give away her address or you might just be able to follow her whenever she checks into Foursquare. For obvious reasons, Girls Around Me has sparked a ton of controversy since its inception.
Public Knowledge Is Free Knowledge
As much as this app is sure to be hated by girls everywhere, the information that Girls Around Me provides to me (and potentially stalkers) is free. In fact, Girls Around Me isn’t doing anything overly illegal by providing these details. If you’ve decided to make a large portion of your Facebook page visible to the general public, anyone can access these details at any time. This is why the whole concept of Foursquare has a general creep factor to it, if you ask this author.
Even though Girls Around Me uses public information, there is a way to prevent your details from going public. You know those small stars next to every Facebook status update you post? Well, click on those stars and make sure that only your friends can see what you’ve been up to. If you choose to make all of your updates public, you can bet that someone out there will be waiting to see what your posting – and maybe even waiting to see when you’ll pop up on a Girls Around Me map.
Foursquare Steps In
While the details that Girls Around Me originally used are public, Foursquare has since stated that the way this app uses these bits of information are against the social network’s policy. As such, Foursquare has pulled all access that Girls Around Me had to the site. So, it’s safe to say that Girls Around Me will no more, unless this app finds some other way to provide men with this kind of information. Yet, I have to wonder why Apple let this app pass the stringent Apple app tests – a stalker app is acceptable? I think not.
Whether or not Girls Around Me will go on is kind of a moot point. The fact of the matter here is that your information is public unless you make a point of ensuring that it’s private. If you are going to use Foursquare, make sure that you check off those privacy settings (this goes for the Apple “Find My Friends” app too – another creepy app). As far as Facebook goes (and Instagram and any number of other apps), be sure to look over those privacy settings – you can never be too careful.