Today in "Lowjack Yourself" news

This Creepy App Isn't Just Stalking Women Without Their Knowledge, It's A Wake-Up Call About Facebook Privacy

It's when you push the radar button that Girls Around Me does what it says on the tin. I pressed the button for my friends. Immediately, Girls Around Me went into radar mode, and after just a few seconds, the map around us was filled with pictures of girls who were in the neighborhood. Since I was showing off the app on a Saturday night, there were dozens of girls out on the town in our local area.

"Wait... what? Are these girls prostitutes?" one of my friends asked, which given the Matrix-like silhouettes posing on the splash screen was a pretty good question.

"Oh, no," I replied. "These are just regular girls. See this girl? Her name's Zoe. She lives on the same street as me and Brittany. She works at a coffee shop, and I'm pretty sure she doesn't moonlight picking up tricks."

Update: Charlie Stross has a good followup to this.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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13 Responses:

  1. LafinJack says:

    They were going to monetize it by selling a counter-app, StalkersNearMe, and also charging to be removed from the app's listings.

    • hattifattener says:

      They they could also sell GirlsAroundMeWhoHaven'tBoughtStalkersAroundMeAndThereforeMustSecretlyWantToBeStalked.

  2. JMS says:

    To make things a bit creepier, the location marked on the splash screen, the intersection of West Date and State Street in San Diego is a public elementary school.

  3. David Veatch says:

    The way this article is written, if it were made into a video, I can imagine Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort explaining it to their eager and hyper-concerned friends around a campfire at a beach. Or perhaps a 1980's or 90's video espousing the dangers of Dungeon's and Dragons.

    A friend of mine at Garmin decided against pursuing a similar app that was meant to be for parents looking for all the publicly accessible playgrounds in the area. He abandoned it for fear of it being used by stalkers (we grew up at the height of Stranger Danger mania). I couldn't help but think of the number of stranger abductions vs. known-one abductions, and feel disappointed that we're so governed by fear.

    This app, though? Creepy, to be sure.

  4. Jeremy Wilson says:

    I'm really worried about the current tween generation. The company I work for offers a quick and easy way to do 30-second videos from your webcam or phone, and these kids are putting their entire lives up for public display. And they don't care who sees it. In fact, they encourage people to follow their every post.

    The problem seems to be that I am just too damn old - in my day, you were very careful about the sorts of things you left online. I carefully curated most of my online persona and never put things on the tubes that I wouldn't be comfortable letting my mother or my employer see. I had years of computer socialization training that these kids, and by extension these young adults on this app, haven't had.

    The bigger question is, where are the parents in this to teach these kids that calling their teacher a bitch on Twitter might actually have some consequences?

    • Ronan Waide says:

      There was an interesting throwaway line in, I think, one of the current stories in Rudy Rucker's Flurb: something about how the ubiquity of information on peoples' private lives and activities meant that the gossip trade died a death when it became trivial to discover that everyone had sex, did drugs, and behaved like idiots much of the time. A simplistic and perhaps utopian view of it, to be sure, but thought-provoking all the same.

      • Jeremy Wilson says:

        I imagine at some point in the distant future only rich people will have private lives.

    • Aidan Kehoe says:

      “The problem seems to be that I am just too damn old - in my day, you were very careful about the sorts of things you left online. I carefully curated most of my online persona and never put things on the tubes that I wouldn't be comfortable letting my mother or my employer see. I had years of computer socialization training that these kids, and by extension these young adults on this app, haven't had.”

      What? It’s not as if there people sharing every detail of their lives was very novel ten years ago either, certainly not as I remember it. It was that bit less likely that one’s mother was online, so I wouldn’t be surprised if people were readier to share back then.

      People get burned, they and (probably more importantly) their friends learn the lesson from it, a new cohort comes online and learns the same lessons again. Just like teenagers don’t learn reasonable drinking habits from thirty-year-olds.

  5. J. Peterson says:

    The Joy of Tech weighs in on the topic.