Apple removes Instagram stalking app from App Store

Apple removes Instagram stalking app from App Store

The Like Patrol app promised to keep tabs on partners' activity on Instagram. Apple says the app violated its guidelines.

cNet | Source URL

Apple has removed the Like Patrol app from its App Store, following Instagram's delivery of a cease-and-desist letter to the app's developers for violating its policies against data collection. Like Patrol enables subscribers to keep constant surveillance of other people's social media activities. 

Like Patrol wanted to make spying on Instagram easier than ever, setting up a service that let paying subscribers get notifications anytime someone they followed commented on or liked a photo. It targeted people in relationships, saying they could use the app to keep tabs on whoever their partners were communicating with on Instagram. 

Instagram sent its cease-and-desist letter in late October. 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 on Monday. 

The app first showed up in Apple's store in July. It doesn't appear in the Google Play Store for Android devices.

The app charges people up to $80 a year and had fewer than 300 people signed up in October, app founder Sergio Luis Quintero said late last month in an email to CNET. 

The app isn't classified 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. Like Patrol 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 his company intended to fight it. 

It's unclear if the company also intends to fight Apple. 

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