Who's in Town Denies Instagram Block

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A tracking app has hit back against recent reports that it has been blocked on social media giants Instagram and Facebook.

An article published last Tuesday on the Business Insider website reported that Facebook recently sent a cease-and-desist letter to the company behind the app Who’s in Town and took action to disable the personal Facebook account of the app’s creator Erick Barto. 

Speaking exclusively to Infosecurity Magazine, Barto confirmed that although he had received a cease-and-desist letter from legal firm Perkins Coie representing Facebook, the Who’s in Town app was still very much active. 

Barto said: “The Who’s in Town app is still up and running and statements about Facebook blocking it are untrue. 

“I had a couple of apps in the Facebook developer dashboard that were very old from 2013. They were legacy apps in my account. Facebook closed them and they closed my Facebook account and blocked my personal Instagram account.”

Asked whether What’s in Town would be complying with the cease-and-desist letter, Barto said that the company “would reply, not comply,” in an effort to start a conversation with Facebook about the safe handling of data.

The Who’s in Town app allows users to monitor the movements of people they follow on Instagram. It works by collecting geotag data shared publicly on Instagram and displaying the data in an interactive map.

Barto designed the app to highlight the amount of data people are constantly sharing online and show how easily such data can be collected and misused. With this point now made and a cease-and-desist letter from Facebook hanging over Who’s in Town’s head, you could be forgiven for thinking the outlook for the app is somewhat bleak. According to Barto, this is not the case.   

Barto said: “We want more people to know about it because in the past with other projects we have made we have had more reach. As soon as we feel we have made our point with Who’s in Town we want to propose a solution to the problem, to work with Facebook on how to use data safely.”

Asked if he was nervous about taking Facebook on, Barto said: “Not if the outcome is worth it.”

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