Controversial iPhone app pulled off the market

The app design featured silhouettes of women on radar. (Courtesy of tweetbuzz)

Michelle Basch,

WASHINGTON – An iPhone app downloaded tens of thousands of times has been voluntarily pulled off the market after a popular website called it “creepy” and raised privacy concerns.

“Girls Around Me” app gave users a map of locations near them where women had recently checked in on Foursquare.

Plus, if a woman’s Foursquare account is linked to her Facebook account, the app would provide the user her photo and Facebook profile.

A writer for the website “Cult of Mac” wrote Friday that the app “has the potential to be used as a tool for rapists and stalkers.”

Kashmir Hill, a staffer at Forbes who covers privacy issues, calls that an alarmist reaction.

“There’s this assumption that only stalkers and rapists are interested in knowing about the people that are around them at any given time,” Hill says.

Over the weekend, the company that created “Girls Around Me” voluntarily removed it from Apple’s App Store.

The creators told Hill it had been downloaded more than 70,000 times. Many people choose to put some personal information on social networking sites, Hill says, adding she does it herself.

“That’s an option that technology is giving us now, that we can project who we are and where we are in the hopes of making connections,” Hill said.

Hill is a Foursquare user.

“For me, it’s a good way to announce to my friends where I am in the city, in case they want to come meet me,” she said.

Other popular apps still on the market that do the same thing “Girls Around Me” did, including one called Blendr, according to Hill.

Social networking is about sharing experiences but comes with responsibility, she said.

“Know what you’re putting out there, and if you’re really uncomfortable with people knowing where you are, you probably shouldn’t be using Foursquare,” says Hill.

Follow Michelle Basch and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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