A lot have been said with regard to privacy policies around popular social media platforms where people are sharing about themselves. Unfortunately, with the approach that most social media platforms applies, which is: you have to sign out from some privacy-concern feature, it’s more than likely the most social media users aren’t even aware of what can be discovered about them. Learn about the Girls around me app.
To share or not to share?
In fact, most people happily share almost everything about them: how scary it is to see that most social media users find themselves “obliged” to fill-out every piece of information that those online platforms asks them: actual name, address and sometimes phone number, their political and religious views, things they like, and so on and so forth. What scares me the most is that those same users have chosen to trust those platforms when it comes to “controlling” the access to those data.
Personally, I always take for granted that whatever I publish on those social media platforms are (or can be) publicly visible– so I carefully chose whatever I want published on my online profiles. But that sometimes isn’t enough since, for Facebook’s case for example, your friends can tag you on their posts and photos, which means that you are not the only person who can upload something about you. But that’s another story.
Girls around me app
One iOS app just showcased how dangerous (or interesting, depending on what your perspective is) those public information can be. The app was (because it seems it has been pulled out from iTunes) called “Girls around Me”. The app does a simple thing: it checks where you are, then it shows a mashup of Google Maps/Facebook and Foursquare that reports every girl near the place you are now (since you can also be located from the location feature of your iPhone/iPad).
Not only do you have a list of Girls who are hanging around you, but you have got their names, what they like, where they have been and so on and so forth … In fact, you know more about that girl before even talking to her. And the worst thing is that, those information are public, and most of the time, the girl you are “targeting” isn’t even aware about it.
How the “Girls Around Me” app works
In fact, it seems the App maker isn’t violating any policy: they only take publicly available information, mash it up then plot it nicely on Google Maps. I invite you to read a longer writing on how the “Girls Around Me” works from CultMac’s article. While the author have reported that the App have been denied access to Foursquare’s API, and that it have been taken out of iTunes market, I’m afraid it doses’t solve the underlying issue.
As long as people keep publishing all and everything about them on social media places, and as long as users have to opt-out from some features (including location-based features), there will always be apps (popular or not) who can exploit these shortcomings and make such applications work. Girls around me app is only one tip of the iceberg, I’m sure there’s a lot of similar applications out there …
So what’s your view on those kind of applications? Do you find them interesting, or scary?