MrSeb writes: "Over the weekend, a story about an iPhone app captured the attention and ire of the tech world. Girls Around Me is a simple app that takes your location, and then queries Foursquare and Facebook’s location APIs to find any girls (or boys) that are geographically close. You’re then shown a map, powered by Google, with faces (pulled from Facebook profiles) pinned to it. Clicking a face lets you see more information about the person (again pulled from Facebook). Ostensibly, you’re meant to use Girls About Me to help you decide which bar or nightclub you should visit, but of course the tech world — and even the mainstream media — is instead labeling it as a rapetastic example of the lack of privacy afforded by Facebook’s default settings. You see, Girls Around Me wasn’t hacking Foursquare or Facebook to get this information: It was using open APIs to access information that, by default, Facebook and Foursquare make public. This isn’t a new feature of either social network, of course, but Girls Around Me is just the perfect, creepy illustration of why some information — like your location — should be friends-only by default. The problem with all of these apoplectic, spittle-drenched reports about Girls Around Me is that they assume the worst. They assume that people will use this app to prey on men and women. They assume that these people are all being hoodwinked by Facebook and Foursquare into sharing their location. In short, all of these reports are predicated on the assumption that we’re living in a world that is packed with rapists. I hate to break it to you, but we’re not. The world is also not full of terrorists, or muggers, or people who will steal your children while they play in the yard. The world is probably the safest it's ever been. Crime is at a 40-year low. What Girls Around Me really shows, in my opinion, is a perfect example of the fear culture that we live in — and technology is to blame."
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