“Girls Around Me” App Confirms That Foursquare Is A Terrible Idea For Women
11:12 am, March 31st | by Amy Tennery
A new iPhone app “Girls Around Me” allows you to utilize Foursquare data and find out… which “girls” are around you (hence the name). While it sounds like an app for pedophiles, it’s actually aimed at helping of-age users who are “in the mood for love, or just after a one-night stand,” with a woman. My goodness.
When you log into the app, it registers all the women (and men, actually, but “Boys Around Me” sounds a little weirder for some reason — I wonder why!) who have checked in on Foursquare in your area. And then it also shows you all their publicly shared Facebook photos.
But did it really take this to figure out that Foursquare is kind of a sketchy proposition, especially for women?
For the uninitiated, Foursquare is an app that lets
burglars know the best time to stop by your home you tell all your friends where you are, using your phone’s GPS. You can “check in” to different restaurants, shops, etc. For social media-inclined folks, it’s a great way to keep people in the loop on which restaurants, bars and hang outs you’re frequenting. For others, it’s one more infernal social media thing you have to keep updating every five goddamn minutes, as though you were already doing so great keeping regular on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and whatever else it is the kids are doing these days, you popular, popular person.
I know I was half-joking about the robbery thing, but I am definitely not the first to person to realize how vulnerable Foursquare actually leaves you. Back in 2010, someone actually invented a program called “Please Rob Me,” which reminded users of “various location-based networks” (i.e., Foursquare) that everyone knows where they are all the time. The system, which recognized folks who had hooked up their Foursquare accounts to their Twitter accounts, kindly tweeted at people after they “checked in” somewhere, reminding them that “the whole world can see your location through Twitter.” Yikes.
And I hardly need to outline why this is particularly problematic for women. Do you live alone? Have you ever “checked in” to your house or apartment at the end of the day? Yep, let’s not go any further down this train of thought.
It’s worth mentioning that Foursquare includes privacy settings that allow you to control who sees your Foursquare check-ins. But many users don’t opt into those settings. And, if you really want to freak yourself out, read this 2010 Daily Beast piece relaying the story of a female media strategist who “checked in” at a restaurant and then received a threatening phone call from an anonymous man who had tracked down her exact location through the program. It reads like a horror movie — and it was instances like that which led to the ICanStalkU.com app. It operated similarly to “Please Rob Me” (and has since been shut down).
As Gawker learned, Foursquare has since shut down location access to Girls Around Me, since it’s a “violation” of the company’s policies. But you have to wonder: Was Girls Around Me doing anything you couldn’t accomplish with Foursquare to begin with? Or was it just making it easier?