You may or may not be creeped out by this new app but, it’s a good bet that if you haven’t already been creeped on, you will be. All from your own information!
A new app called Girls Around Me is a creeper’s dream. The scariest part about it is that it is powered by your information that you make publicly available through social media — you just probably haven’t seen it all pulled together and used this way. Essentially, what the app does is aggregate information from several social media sites including Facebook and Foursquare to literally hunt down and track the location of girls (or guys) who are around you at any given time. It then allows you to gather more information about them, see more pictures of them, etc. It does this based on the geo-tagging information available through your check-ins and the information and pictures you make available on your various social media profiles.
While I am sure it will only be a matter of days before our national nannys in Congress decide the highest and best use of their time and energy is to ban this app, this isn’t a legal issue. It’s a life issue.
We all must come to grips with the fact that, in our modern society, data is the most valuable thing out there and everyone wants it. That’s right — data. Data is more valuable than money. Why, you may wonder? Because it can be used to make a lot more money! Please – stop whatever it is you are doing right now and use your brain for just a few minutes and think about this. Yes, I said think — think about these simple questions:
- Why do you think Google is so happy to give you all of those awesome “free” tools?
- Why do you think Facebook is worth so much when it gives away its product for free?
- Why do you think all of these App Developers spend the time and money they do to develop apps that they then give away for free or $.99?
Everyone out there is trying to find ways of getting your data — as much information about you as possible — so they can sell it to those who use it for reasons you can’t even imagine. It is yours and it is up to you to protect it. If you chose not to, if you chose to make it public, you should at least recognize how it can be used and this app gives just one very small example. Just imagine yourself showing up on the screen displayed to the right:
Many of you will be disgusted by this app and the method in which it is marketed. And, understandably so. However, we really should be thankful that we have had a chance to see it because it gives us a great real-world example of just how much information about ourselves that we share for the world to see and use. If you know me personally, you know that I am a huge fan of social media, my legal practice includes social media law, and am an avid user of social media. I use Facebook and Foursquare, check-in many places I go, and then allow it to be broadcast via Facebook and Twitter. If someone had a twisted fetish for an overweight, middle-aged white guy who spends his free time writing about “law stuff”, no doubt they could find me and I’d be on their “app”. Given the description I just gave, however, I’m ok with taking that risk. But the important thing is that it is an educated risk. Yours should be also.
If you want to read more about this app and get a much better understanding of how it works, read this excellent article by John Brownlee: This Creepy App Isn’t Just Stalking Women Without Their Knowledge, It’s a Wake-Up Call About Facebook Privacy — this is where I first learned about the app and is the article from which most of the factual content originated. Thanks for the excellent work John!
UPDATE: WITHIN A DAY OF MY WRITING THIS POST, FOURSQUARE HAD KILLED THIS APP. But, the lesson remains the same and you can bet, there will be more.