Apple removes Instagram stalking app from App Store
Apple has removed the app Like Patrol from its App Store, several days after Instagram sent a cease-and-desist letter to the developers for violating its policies against data collection. The app encouraged spying on loved ones and keeping constant surveillance on people’s social media activities.
Like Patrol wanted to make creeping on Instagram easier than ever, setting up a service through which paying subscribers could get notifications anytime someone they followed commented on or liked a photo. It was targeted at people in relationships, telling them they could use it to keep tabs on whoever their partners were speaking with on Instagram.
On Saturday, Apple removed Like Patrol from the App Store, and said the app violated its guidelines. Like Patrol didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The app first appeared on Apple’s store in July, and doesn’t have a version on Android. It charged people up to $80 a year to spy on their partners, and had fewer than 300 people signed up in October, founder Sergio Luis Quintero said.
The app doesn’t classify as stalkerware, which abusive partners use to keep track of private information like location data, call logs, text messages and contacts. Still, security experts found that Like Patrol was encouraging stalking behavior by monitoring people’s activities on social media.
Quintero described his app as Instagram’s “Following Tab, on steroids,” enhancing a tool that the social network killed off in early October. The app would deliver notifications by gender, letting subscribers know if the people they followed interacted with posts from men or women, and claimed to have an algorithm to detect if they were posts from attractive people.
It did this by scraping people’s public profiles for data a practice that directly violates Instagram’s policies. Four days after Instagram sent Like Patrol the cease-and-desist letter, Quintero said that his company intended on fighting the request.
It’s unclear if he also intends on fighting Apple after the app’s removal.