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How to Stalk Girls for Fun and Profit.

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Alison at Creekside alerted me to the existence of this app, and some of the increasing disquiet with regard to its possible use.

From here:

Girls Around Me wasn’t actually doing anything wrong. Sure, on the surface, it looks like a hook-up app like Grindr for potential stalkers and date rapists, but all that Girls Around Me is really doing is using public APIs from Google Maps, Facebook and Foursquare and mashing them all up together, so you could see who had checked-in at locations in your area, and learn more about them. Moreover, the girls (and men!) shown in Girls Around Me all had the power to opt out of this information being visible to strangers, but whether out of ignorance, apathy or laziness, they had all neglected to do so. This was all public information. Nothing Girls Around Me does violates any of Apple’s policies.

In fact, Girls Around Me wasn’t even the real problem.

“It’s not, really, that we’re all horrified by what this app does, is it?” I asked, finishing my drink. “It’s that we’re all horrified by how exposed these girls are, and how exposed services like Facebook and Foursquare let them be without their knowledge.”

But I didn’t have an easy answer ready for my friend’s last question. I’d been playing with the app for almost two months. Why hadn’t I written about it? None of the answers made me look good.

Part of it was because, like many tech professionals, I had taken for granted that people understood that their Facebook profiles and Foursquare data were publicly visible unless they explicitly said otherwise …

It was in just this spirit that I’d shown off the app to my friends in the first place. It was getting late, we were all drunk or on the verge of getting there, and it had been a perfect day. It would have been so nice to finish things with a laugh. But now, as six intelligent, sophisticated friends from a variety of backgrounds surrounded me — some looking sick, some looking angry, and some with genuine fear in their faces — I didn’t think Girls Around Me was so funny. It had cast a pall across a beautiful day, and it had made people I loved feel scared… not just for the people they loved, but for complete strangers.

So I’m writing about it now. Not because Girls Around Me is an evil app that should be pulled from the iOS App Store, or because the company that makes it — Moscow-based i-Free — is filled with villains. I still don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with what this app is doing, and the guys at i-Free are super nice, and certainly don’t mean for this app to be anything beyond a diversion. So, the reason I’m writing about Girls Around Me is because I finally know what to say about it, and what it means in the greater picture.

Who would imagine sexual predators might represent such a large market share of apps buyers?

I certainly would not; my experience about these guys is that they represent a minority of men but since they are recidivists who persist in their harassing and often, criminal behaviour, they poison the lives of the majority of women.

When I wrote about Dominique Strauss-Kahn in this post my observations applied to other high-profile sexual predators, like Russell Williams and Paul Bernardo as well as to the less murderous and malignant varieties: the fraternity boy who dispenses Rophypnol, the priest who lures to him the little children, the politician who sexually exploits a family employee.

It has long been my view that the male population is roughly divided into 3 camps; those who commit with impunity a range of violent actions against women, those who are passively complicit with the first group and benefit from the terror they spread and, finally but certainly not least, the good men who do not engage in these behaviours and who speak up against them.

The men in the first group do not, in spite of their proclamations to the contrary, “love” women. What passes for “love” is a range of manipulative strategies they have learned from observing family members and other male figures. These tactics have one purpose: to ensure a woman is available, willing or not, to service their needs.

The men in the first group are often deemed to be “successful” because the aggressiveness they display in their hunting of women often serves them well in the business world.

Perhaps the creators of “Girls Around Me” are correct in their understanding of what makes their potential customers tick; there are men ‘out there’ who would use this instrument to make women’s nightmares come true.

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This page contains a single entry by published on April 1, 2012 5:24 PM.

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