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Controversial Girl-Finding App Gives Light To Online Privacy Concerns

Brendan Smialowski, Getty Images

We all know those girls, the ones that have a compulsive need to let everybody on Facebook and Twitter know exactly where they are and what they’re doing at all hours of the day. Personally, I find it annoying. But in all seriousness, it can also be very dangerous.

Case in point: the app Girls Around Me. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s an app that takes your current location, then uses a combination of information from Facebook, Foursquare and Google Maps to show you all the girls in your area, where they are right now, and provides a link to their Facebook pages. For the guys, it was just a harmless, fun little app. But for the girls, it raised a huge red flag for their safety, arguing that the app made it far too easy for stalkers and rapists to track down their next victim.

The app caused such a stir that Foursquare ultimately disabled the app’s access to its data, and the app has been pulled from the stores. But technically speaking, the app isn’t doing anything illegal. It’s taking all this information, that people voluntarily provide and is already available publicly, and compiling it into one place. Stalkers could easily obtain all of this information even without the help of apps like “Girls Around Me.”

However, the app has served to “shine a light,” so to speak, on online privacy and just how much people choose to share about themselves to the rest of the world. I have never liked the idea of letting everyone know your exact location at any given time. To that end, I don’t use location services like Foursquare.  I also have the location services disabled on my Facebook page. If you’re really worried about people trying to stalk you via the Internet, you’ve got to be more careful about what you post.

It’s important that everyone, especially these young women, realize that people other than your friends can see what you post on the Internet.  And once it’s in the public domain, it’s fair game for anyone to use how they see fit.

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