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Software

Girls Around Me app developer hits back at privacy concerns

A controversial app has been taken down from Apple's App Store by its creator. But does it violate our privacy?

An app accused of encouraging stalking has been pulled from iTunes by its creator, the Wall Street Journal reports. The developer has also hit back at criticisms, claiming it's being picked on as a scapegoat.

Girls Around Me promises to help you "see where nearby girls are checking in, and shows you what they look like and how to get in touch!" You can also "browse photos of lovely ladies and tap their thumbnail to find out more about them". It does this by showing their info and photos from Facebook and Foursquare. Bit creepy.

Foursquare cut off access from the app after Cult of Mac wrote a long piece about it, saying it violated its policy of aggregating information across venues.

i-Free, the maker of Girls Around Me, then pulled the app from iTunes, saying it was useless without Foursquare compatibility. And now it's defended itself, claiming the app's sole intention is to help people discover nearby venues. Though the name of the app would suggest otherwise. As would the fact its logo is a woman in a radar.

i-Free says it will continue development of the app and "limit it to showing only public places and venues". It's been downloaded more than 70,000 times.

In a statement, i-Free said the app was designed "to make geo-social exploration of popular venues easy and visual." It points out all the info shown is already available on Foursquare or Facebook, and you can see males as well as females.

"[W]e believe it is unethical to pick a scapegoat to talk about privacy concerns," the statement reads. "We see this wave of negative [sic] as a serious misunderstanding of the apps' goals, purposes, abilities and restrictions."

The app raises serious questions about privacy, how much we all choose to share online, and what someone can do with it all. What do you make of it? Are we too carefree with our data nowadays? Let me know in the comments below, or on our Facebook page. If reading about the app hasn't made you delete your Facebook account, that is.