Girls Around Me devs hit back at stalker critics #BrandingFail

I-Free, the Russian dev house behind the “Girls Around Me” app has fired back at criticism that its app was simply a tool for weird men to ‘stalk’ women.

The app, which had been downloaded from Apple’s App Store over 70,000 times but has now been removed, mashed location data from Foursquare with public Facebook information to show users, presumably guys, which women had checked into local bars, providing their profile images and sometimes relationship status.

Foursquare has now revoked the app’s access, effectively killing it stone dead.

While critics said the app demonstrated how much we have to learn about what social networks reveal about us, the developers, who claim their app was removed as a result of a technical fault, told the Wall Street Journal that it was “unethical to pick a scapegoat to talk about the privacy concerns”. 

Until last Friday, no one had raised so much as a hoot about the privacy concerns surrounding the app, they said. Adding that it’s important to educate users to take care of their privacy and what they share publicly.

They said the tidal wave of negative publicity represented a serious misunderstanding of the apps’ goals, purpose, abilities and restrictions. The service was “designed to make geo-social exploration of popular venues easy and visual”, they said.

However, I-Free may have unwittingly placed a lit firework in their own pocket in the suggestively sinister way they’ve marketed their app.

In the mood for love, or just after a one-night stand?” Asks the website. “Girls Around Me puts you in control! Reveal the hottest nightspots, who’s in them, and how to reach them... - Browse photos of lovely local ladies and tap their thumbnail to find out more about them.

And when you take into consideration that their logo is an attractive silhouetted woman on a radar screen/sniper cross-hair, with connotations almost too sinister to contemplate, it’s pretty obvious that they were always going to be sitting on a publicity time-bomb.

Undaunted though, I-Free say they’re already working on a comeback. “We are working on providing all necessary comments and data to prove our good intentions,” they said. “We were (and are) making our best efforts to develop an app that fits user expectations without going beyond the restrictions of social networks.”

Let’s hope they’re a bit more subtle this time.

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