Apple has pulled down the creepy app Like Patrol from the App Store for violating policies that dictate data collection. The app has been banned for allowing users to monitor the Instagram activity of other users, without their consent. Like Patrol, which calls itself an Instagram Activity Insights app allowed users to follow every single activity of any other user they wanted to keep a track of, including who they liked or followed. The Facebook owned Instagram had sent a cease-and-desist notice to the developers of the app last month.
“New guy? New girl? What are they up to on Instagram? With Like Patrol you can see the posts they specifically like! Find out who their top fans are,” is how Like Patrol describes itself. Quite creepy, safe to say. Like Patrol would allow users, for a monthly fee, set up their account, place a target on anyone they want to stalk and the Like Patrol app would notify them whenever the stalking target put up a new post, someone liked a post, someone commented on their post, who this person was following now and more. And there were detailed sub-metrics about popularity etc. This was done by scraping user profiles, which directly violates Instagram’s policies. There can be all sorts of discussions about how Like Patrol is not exactly stalkware, but there is no point getting into whataboutery about what is pure and simply stalking at its most dangerous.
If this wasn’t creepy enough, Like Patrol also allegedly had algorithms that would tell a user the “attractiveness” of someone liking or commenting on the post of the user who was being stalked at the time.
It is exactly this sort of activity which Instagram has been clamping down on, recently. In fact, the Instagram app no longer has the “Following” tab, which allowed your friends and followers to see who you have been following and the posts you have been liking on the social network. This tab was removed from the app in October. Therefore, it was extremely unlikely that Instagram would have allowed a third-party app to offer this data, and potentially a lot more information about unsuspecting users, to potential stalkers.