Instagram stalker application ‘Like Patrol’ was recently removed from the Apple app store after it was found to violate company policies for application developers. It should be noted that the app developers were first greeted by a cease and desist letter from Instagram sometime late in October itself. The letter’s delivery to the app meant it was being blacklisted as a violator third-party app. Apple stated that the app violated policies on the collection of data.
The app was basically software meant for spying that primarily targeted people in relationships. As it is common to spying applications, it provided confidential information about whoever was the target. For that, it charged its users a fee.
However, the app has not been categorized under stalkerware. With the collection of data from users’ profiles, the app could access personal information like location data, call logs, contacts and text messages. It then motivated stalking behaviour.
Stalking by abusive partners in an emotionally abusive relationship is fairly common, though unfortunate. No prominent social media platform would like to be seen as being keen through seeming a promoter of any kind of potentially abusive stalking behaviour. On the contrary, most have clear and strict guidelines against the same.
For an $80 yearly fee, the app lets its users get a notification when their near and dear ones liked or commented on someone’s photo, be it, men or women. That being said, it acted like spyware, which enabled people to keep a tab on other people’s social media activities.
Apple removed the app from its app store on Saturday, holding it to be a violator of its guidelines. The app first appeared on Apple’s iPhone store in July 2019. However, for Android users, it did not show up on the Google Play Store. It had around 300 subscribers to its paid application according to developers’ disclosure until October.
The founder of the app Like Patrol, Sergio Luis Quintero, informed a leading website through an email: “We strongly believe that our app does not violate Apple policies, we plan to appeal this decision in the coming days. If our app’s functionality did violate any policies, then Instagram would have violated the exact same policies since 2011 to 2019 with the Following tab. Why weren’t they taken down?”Source
It is relevant to note that the developers have put Instagram’s previous ‘Following Tab’, which it had discontinued, in question to create strong defence grounds for themselves. It should be known that Instagram removed its ‘Following Tab’ in early October, stating that the feature was not used very frequently among its users.
Like Patrol claimed that they had an algorithm that helped users know if they had received notifications filtered through gender demarcations. It sorted if it were from men or women and if they were attractive!
The app lured its user base through the usage of phrases like “Check out current liked posts. You’ll never miss out on the best content.” Though it portrayed itself as an Instagram facilitator app, such tech can easily be a source of misuse by people looking forward to such escape routes.
Some other catchy phrases included “Find new friends by looking at their recently followed”. Needless to say, the people being stalked had no idea about the same.
Apple’s removing the potentially malicious app from its app store is among a series of many measures that tech companies have started to take lately, in order to tighten the existing exploitable security loopholes.