April 1, 2012 at 6:35 PM ET
The developer behind the creepy, stalker-like Girls Around Me app says it's not stalker-like at all; but with Foursquare having yanked access to the app in recent days -- essentially neutering it -- the developer has pulled the app from Apple's App Store.
"It is impossible to search for a particular person in this app, or track his/her location. The app just allows the user to browse the venues nearby, as if you passed by and looked in the window," said the app's developer, Russian-based i-Free Innovations, as part of a lengthy statement to The Wall Street Journal, defending Girls Around Me.
Such window shopping, without those being looked at knowing it, led to the app being downloaded more than 70,000 times since debuting in the App Store last December, i-Free Innovations said.
"Since the app’s launch we’ve seen numerous positive comments from users who claimed that the app helped them to discover 'hot spots' – venues that are popular among girls or boys."
Girls Around Us has relied on information that is made publicly available by users of both Foursquare -- the location-based check-in social network -- and Facebook to show women who are out and about. Friday, we asked Apple for comment on how it was that Girls Around Us was approved for admission into the App Store. We have not heard back yet.
Facebook told the Cult of Mac late Friday that it's investigating the app. We've asked Facebook for comment, and will update this post when we hear back.
In the meantime, i-Free Innovations says it resents being made a privacy "scapegoat," and that it understands "that privacy is a serious matter. We were planning to continue developing the app and limit it to showing only public places and venues."
The company said it's working "on providing all necessary comments and data to prove our good intentions. We were (and are) making our best efforts to develop an app that fits user expectations without going beyond the restrictions of social networks."