Facebook Pulls So-Called 'Stalker App' Hours After It Quietly Launched

8:26 PM PST 06/25/2012 by Elizabeth Snead
Facebook

The company dubs the Friendshake App release a "test," not a formal release, but questions about privacy issues on the social media site persist.

It must have seemed like such an awesome idea.

You’re out with friends at a bar or restaurant and you meet a person with whom you want to keep in touch. Rather than hand out the prerequisite business card, you say, "Hey, friend me? But even that may be too much work after a rambunctious happy hour.

So Facebook came to the rescue with a new "Find Friends Nearby" app.

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Also called “Friendshake,” the app rolled out Monday with little fanfare. Users could locate the Friendshake through the apps menu in Facebook for Android and iOS and by visiting Facebook’s mobile site.

But suddenly, without warning or fanfare, the company yanked it and gave Wired this statement:

“This wasn’t a formal release -- this was just something that a few engineers were testing. With all tests, some get released as full products, others don’t.”

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The reason that the new App was pulled could be as simple as its news report nickname, the "Stalker App." When an app uses GPS to tell strangers that you’re nearby, it’s going to raise privacy concerns, the same ones that surfaced about other geographically social apps like Glancee, which was acquired by Facebook two months ago.

Hours after "Friendshake" went live, Facebook removed the new feature allowing people to locate other nearby users with public profiles. According to reports, a Facebook rep emphasized the company's statement that the new app was an engineers' test, not a new product launch. 

"With all tests, some get released as full products, others don't," the rep wrote in an e-mail. "Nothing more to say on this for now."

 

 

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