There's an app for that ... and everything else
The Pitt News, Staff Editorial, November 29, 2009
Long gone are the days when smartphone applications consisted of conventional, simple
additions to the everyday cellphone user, such as weather reports or maps. Today, the
apps keep getting more complex and downright quirky — and it looks like they'll keep
getting zanier as we continue to merge our social lives with technological developments.
PeopleFinders, an online information broker, has some new apps that could pry a little
deeper into the dating realm. Here's a hypothetical scenario: It's a Friday night, you're
at the bar and your decision-making abilities are slippery at best. Not sure if you really
want to head back with that guy who's had his arm around you the last couple of hours? No
worries. Whip out your iphone and use the “Look up before you hook up” app for a quick
criminal background check of your potential new friend. But maybe Mr. Right For The Night
shouldn't really be out at this hour. Use the “Are They Really Single?” app, which scans
marriage and divorce records to make sure he didn't subtly slip his ring in his pocket
before offering to buy you that drink.
But wait, there's more. "The Stud or Dud?" app digs up as much information as possible
on whatever name you type in. The results could be past addresses, business and professional
licenses to bankruptcies, eviction histories and real estate ownership, according to CNN.
The app draws its info from public records available to anyone. It's supposedly such a
deft tool, however, because PeopleFinders has been collecting data for more than 20 years
from sources all across the United States and stockpiling it in one database. Sorry high
schoolers, the app only accesses data from those 18 and older.
Short of hiring a private investigator, these apps take snooping to a new high — forget the
limitations of Facebook stalking. Then again, this app could provide a sobering wake-up
telling you whom not to wake up next to. Or it could just prevent gold diggers from accidentally
aiming too low. Either way, it's sure to prevent some unwanted frolicking and awkward moments
Assuming the skilled Google searcher or person willing to track down a few files could find
all this information the old-fashioned way, privacy concerns are less of an issue. Some users
have expressed concerns, however, that the information isn't surefire accurate. In some
instances, this means a dating blunder, but what about the employer using these apps to prescreen
potential employees? We're toying with our trust in technology.
And just how far are we taking these apps? As shown, they're even a cause of some controversy.
Then again, there's a range of simplistic, just-for-fun apps — a sign of our proclivity to find
new methods of amusement. From iFart to iBeer, we've shown we can get creative while humoring
our less-than-intellectual sides — but we've already proven that. Turn on MTV if you don't
All these more inventive and in-depth apps like these released by PeopleFinders reflect our
age-old outlook on technology: If we can, we will. From Facebook to texting, our social lives
intertwine ever more with technology. And things aren't slowing down.
So what's next? There's no app for that. Not yet.