Foursquare Shuts Down Location API for “Girls Around Me” App

A recent application that allowed users to spot the girls that were within their vicinity has had some of its rights revoked by Foursquare.  The app, called “Girls Around Me”, was scanning public Foursquare and Facebook to determine whether there were any females in your location.  If a girl had checked in to a location near you or had listed personal location information on Facebook, GAM would find this and show their position overlaid on a map.  Obviously, when this came to light people were a bit unnerved by the whole thing.

The app was first discovered by John Brownlee over at Cult of Mac and has since gone viral.  John tells the interesting story of showing this app to friends to set their “skin crawling”, and explains how the most worrying thing about the app is how it uses public information — nothing the app is doing is technically forbidden.  It raises a few questions for platform creators — questions that other services Tumblr have been facing recently: Do you draw moral and ethical boundaries on the content on your site?

It seems like the answer is yes for extreme cases like these.  There’s no reason to let this application continue to provide potentially dangerous information to people, and Foursquare took the opportunity to emphasize this by shutting down GAM’s access to the Foursquare location API.  This was followed by Apple taking the application down from the App Store.