Instagram stalker app Ghosty yanked from Play store
Ever wanted to view hidden profiles on Instagram? To stalk users who’ve chosen to make their profiles private?
Up until Tuesday morning, you could do that by using a stalker service called Ghosty. Here’s what the app developer promised on versions available on Google Play and Apple’s App Store:
Ghosty – View Hidden Instagram Profile. You can view all the profiles you want to view including hidden profiles on Instagram. You can download or share photos or videos from your Instagram profiles to your gallery. In addition, you will soon be able to access many new features related to your instagram account.
“Soon” won’t come for the app, the logo for which was the profile of snooper extraordinaire Sherlock Holmes. Ghosty was removed from Google’s Play store after Android Police found the service creating what the publication called a “stalker paradise.” Nor could I find it on Apple’s store.
In that stalker paradise/privacy dystopia, anyone could view the many private profiles Ghosty amassed by signing up users who handed over their own accounts’ data – including whatever private accounts those users follow.
As Android Police tells it, this was the deal you had to make with the devil: in order to view whatever private accounts Ghosty had managed to crowd-source, you handed over your Instagram login credentials. You also had to invite at least one other person to Ghosty in order to view private profiles. Thus did Ghosty keep expanding the pool of content it could show its users: if any of those users followed a private account, that profile got added to the content Ghosty would make available.
Android Police noted that when it looked into the app, the media outlet managed to skip past that invitation step and was still able to view at least one private profile.
Not only was the service brazenly exploiting users’ desires to get at private accounts; it was also charging them for bundles or flinging ads at them.
Ghosty isn’t new; it appeared on the Play Store in April 2019. It had been downloaded over half a million times as of 13 November.
That’s a long time for an app to be amassing content while breaking Instagram’s rules. The relevant terms of service clause that forbids what Ghosty was up to:
You can’t attempt to buy, sell, or transfer any aspect of your account (including your username) or solicit, collect, or use login credentials or badges of other users.
As Android Police points out, during the half year that Ghosty was operating, neither Facebook (Instagram’s owners) nor Google apparently did anything about it – at least, not until now.