Instagram is shutting down Like Patrol, following worries that the app encourages and enables stalking behaviours. Like Patrol has also been accused of malpractice around user data.
Back in October Instagram shut down its ‘Following’ tab on similar grounds. It allowed people to closely follow the activity of their friends… a little too closely.
Initially Instagram intended this function to allow people to find new interesting accounts to follow, by looking at their friends’ interactions. The tool quickly came under fire for enabling the sort of controlling behaviour that can be common in abusive relationships.
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Like Patrol fulfils a similar role, but takes it further. The app’s founder, Sergio Luis Quintero, called it “the defunct ‘Following’ tab, on steroids,” according to a report from CNET. He’s charging users $2.99 for weekly subscriptions too, but not for long…
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has said that the app goes against its rules. The company has sent a cease and desist letter to the company, and has alleged that it is also guilty of ‘data scraping’.
A Facebook spokesperson said: “Scraping violates our policies and we take action against companies who we find to be engaging in it. Like Patrol was scraping people’s data so we are taking appropriate enforcement action against them.”
Like Patrol notifies users if a person they follow posts a comment or likes something on Instagram.
Similar ‘stalkerware’ apps have a reputation for being used in stalking and abusive relationships, since they make it easier for a jealous partner to check up on the likes and interactions of their significant other.
The app also breaks down the interactions by gender and, even more worryingly, the app also doesn’t require the consent of the person being ‘followed’.