Who’s in town: the app that tracks your movements on Instagram

This app uses geolocation data from posts to track your movements on Instagram. Stalkers could take advantage of it to spy on you

A new app for Instagram is raising a lot of controversy over, as it happens, privacy issues: it's called Who's in town and it's available for both Android and iOS. It has only one function, but a very clear one: to show you on a map where the people you follow on Instagram are located.

Or, rather, from which places they have posted and are posting: "Your friends share their locations on Instagram all the time... Our app stores them for you, and shows them in a convenient map; so you don't have to ask where they are anymore". Those are the words we can read as soon as we open the home page of the Who's in Town website. As we get deeper into the app, whose developer is already known for having created other applications that put privacy at risk, we discover that to make the tracking of instagrammers more convenient, two viewing modes are available.

How Who's in town works

The two modes of operation of Who's in town are the general one and the "single user" one. With the first one we'll see a crowded map, full of pins representing all the shares of all the profiles we follow. It is not very comfortable to use, if we have given the follow to many people. The second mode, on the other hand, is a true tracking of the single profile and shows in the map the geotags of the shares of a single profile. In both cases both post tags and story tags are shown, but the story tags disappear after 24 hours with the stories themselves.

Who's in town and privacy: is it dangerous?

The geolocation of a post or story on Instagram is a personal choice of the instagramer. So many might think there's no risk to privacy: if we don't want to be found, we don't use geotags in our content. Who's in town, however, is a very powerful tracking tool and, because of this, it can also be used for unpleasant purposes. Want to stalk an influencer you're crazy about? Who's in town is the ideal app to do so.

Neither in the privacy policy nor in the terms and conditions of use of Who's in town, finally, is specified what happens if someone blocks us after we have already started following him: will we stop seeing his tags? Moreover, there is also the problem that Who's in town collects data also from private profiles. So those who think they are sharing their information with a small number of people may actually have to share it with this app outside Instagram as well.

Who's in town: Instagram investigates the app

For all these reasons, Instagram is analyzing the behavior of Who's in town to check if this app is violating the platform's policies. Should it turn out to be any violation, then a ban would be triggered. Also because the app was developed by Erick Barto, who already in the past has created other apps that have raised several doubts. Like Chatwatch, an app that let you know when and how much your contacts were chatting (with specific data for each user) and could also guess if two of your contacts had chatted with each other.