Girls Around Me

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Girls Around Me was an application that used geo-location services from Foursquare to link location with personal profile data. The app was created by the Russian company SMS Services [1] and was made available on the iTunes App Store and for the Android. Girls Around Me was downloaded over 70,000 times before being removed in March of 2012.[2]

The app opened to a map with images of girls from their Facebook profiles pinned to where they were currently located. All one had to do was allow their mobile device to use their current location, open the app, and get a display of women around them. After looking through the images that appeared, they could click on a specific target and gain access to her Facebook profile for more information.[3]. The app also allowed men to be found; however as the name implies, it defaulted to women. [4] To use the app a user must have had "energy," and once a user ran out of energy they were required to buy more or wait for it to reload before they could continue searching [3]. The app was eventually removed from the market due to ethical concerns because it violated the location-syncing application's terms of use and risked individual target's privacy.

The homescreen and mapping interface for Girls Around Me [3]

How it Works

Girls Around Me worked by tapping into Foursquare and using Facebook profiles that girls have linked to their accounts, to provide all of their information [3]. Foursquare works by using geo-location services that both make connections between real-world settings and your location and show your location to other users. For example, someone can use Foursquare to let others on Facebook know that they just went to ‘that new restaurant in town.’ Smartphones have GPS chips inside them that use satellite data to determine your location, and applications such as Google Maps can then use this to express your location on a map interface. Recently, cell phone towers along with proximity to Wi-Fi networks have also been used to approximate location [5]. To use Girls Around Me a Foursquare account was required and after registering the application determined your current location and proceeded to scan Foursquare for girls who had checked in recently nearby. It then used linked Facebook accounts to provide the user information about the women he was seeing. The user was also required to log in via Facebook, effectively exposing their information to others as well [4].



Because the app aggregated information from Foursquare/Facebook users without their knowledge or permission, it was viewed as possibly unethical. This app has been described as an app for stalkers and rapists. The app first gained attention from an article written on “Cult of Mac,” drawing attention to its existence and the twisted ways it could be used. The main point of controversy was that the app developers weren’t doing anything illegal. Both kinds of information from Foursquare and Facebook were set to be publicly available by the users themselves; however, they were often unaware of this fact. SMS Services argued that their intent was not meant to be creepy in any way, and that the app was meant just as much as a way to avoid “ugly women” as it was to find attractive ones [2]. SMS Services argued that the app was in fact doing nothing illegal and was not intended for any unethical uses. They argued that it does not allow a user to track one individual person or search for them nearby, it just “allows the user to browse the venues nearby, as if you passed by and looked in the window” [6].


Some women fought back saying that they would like their information to be shared with men who were searching [2]. According to a recent study by Pew, women are actually more responsible and savvy as it comes to keeping up with Facebook privacy settings [7] [8]. Writer Kashmir Hill (for argues that many have become comfortable in this increasingly social and public world with exposing their information in order to make connections with new and more people. The backlash against the app made it appear as though all men were sexual predators and all women were damsels in distress who must be protected [2].


Foursquare stated that Girls Around Me violated their terms of use and permanently interrupted Girls Around Me’s access to their public application programming interface (API), rendering the application useless. [6] Following this decision, the application was removed from the market by i-Free Innovations. SMS Services announced in April that they will be continuing to develop the app and hope to release an updated version in the future [9].

Ethical Concerns


The geo-discovery aspect of Girls Around Me raises questions about privacy, as users have the ability to take data from both the Facebook and Foursquare APIs and use them for their own gain. [10] On one level, Girls Around Me users can argue that their actions are legal, as they are only taking Facebook and Foursquare information that is publicly accessible; since they are not breaking any laws, they are not violating any ethical codes. On another level, users can be seen as invading the privacy of Facebook and Foursquare users. Even though the Facebook and Foursquare information is technically available to the public, it does not mean that ethically people should use the information to locate and track others. Facebook and Foursquare users might not know just how easy it is for outsiders to access their public online information. If they knew how easy their information was to access, they might not utilize lenient privacy settings. Thus, Girls Around Me users can be seen as abusing the lack of privacy knowledge of the general public, and this abuse for personal gain is not ethically sound.



Labeled by Professor Tom Keenan of the University of Calgary as "creepy" and "opportunistic stalking",[11] Girls Around Me allowed for predators to stalk potential victims online without risking capture from law enforcement officials. Before, predators could stalk victims in online chat rooms and eventually arrange to meet them. In arranging to meet victims, predators risked capture from law enforcement who could have been trying to locate the predator online and catch them in the act of harming a victim. With Girls Around Me, predators could discover victims in a certain location unbeknownst to the victim or law enforcement, making it difficult for victims to seek help and law enforcement to capture the predators.


Similar apps have also made easier the acts of infidelity and cheating. Pulling up a map of women makes this type of action much more accessible, and other apps, besides Girls Around Me itself, also allow for filters and searches for specific qualities desired. These qualities may be "single," "in a relationship," or a plethora of other characteristics.


Another ethical concern is with the issue of profiling. If a user has made their ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, sexuality, or other characteristic publicly available, this app can be turned into a tool to promote or facilitate racial, sexual, or gender discrimination. In addition, with images of users it would be easy to profile different people by their attractiveness and would likely lead to more attractive users being harassed by strangers.

Similar Applications

See Also


  1. PCWorld. "Girls Around Me App Voluntarily Pulled After Privacy Backlash"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Forbes. "The Reaction To 'Girls Around Me' Was Far More Disturbing Than The 'Creepy' App Itself"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Girls Around Me.
  4. 4.0 4.1 The New York Times. "Girls Around Me: An App Takes Creepy to a New Level"
  5. PCWorld. "Geolocation 101: How It Works, the Apps, and Your Privacy"
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Wall Street Journal. "‘Girls Around Me’ Developer Defends App After Foursquare Dismissal"
  7. Forbes. "Why Are Dudes More Reckless On Facebook Than The Ladies?"
  8. Forbes. "Blendr: A Smartphone App To Broadcast 'I'm Single and Looking'"
  9. Cult of Mac. "‘Girls Around Me’ Dev: Our App’s Not For Stalking Women, It’s For Avoiding The Ugly Ones [Exclusive Interview]"
  11. The Province Website: "'Creepy' smartphone apps aid stalkers and put women at risk, experts say"

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