Apple Throws Instagram ‘Stalker’ App Off Store


Apple has banned an app that let people monitor others’ activity on Instagram.

Like Patrol charged a fee to notify users which posts their friends had “liked” and who they had recently followed.

The action comes a month after Instagram had tried to force the app to shut down after accusing it of scraping people’s data without their consent.

Like Patrol’s Mexico-based developer insists the app merely utilised public data.

“We plan to appeal this decision in the coming days,” he said.

He added that he also intended to make Like Patrol’s code open source so that others could reproduce its functionality.

The app’s removal was first reported by Cnet.

Like Patrol was never offered on Google Play.

‘On steroids’

Until recently, Instagram offered its own more basic means to see what friends were up to on its platform.

But it removed the Following Tab in October after acknowledging some users had been “surprised” to learn their activities could be tracked via the facility.

“Great tool to keep track of my teenagers… without them thinking I’m being nosy,” read one review on Apple’s App Store.

But several technology blogs claimed it encouraged “creepy” behaviour.

“Apps such as Like Patrol represent just one of the ways that technology has helped people stalk others,”said security company Malwarebytes.

Instagram itself said the software had violated its policies.

“Like Patrol was scraping people’s data, so we are taking appropriate enforcement action against them,” a spokeswoman said last month.

But Mr Quintero said he did not accept the firm’s criticism.

“There is a strong hypocrisy in Facebook’s condemnation of our app,” he told the BBC,

“Like Patrol does not collect data from Instagram users, it provides the users with a tool to rearrange information that is already available to them.

But some are hoping it will now be abandoned.

“This app may well be gone but there are undoubtedly many more still out there,” said Lisa Forte, founder of Red Goat Cyber Security.

“Our data and privacy is valuable. Apps like this one can be hugely intrusive.

“Be very cautious with what apps you decide to download and always keep your phone updated.”