How WhosHere Is Helping Users Connect and Law Enforcement Fight Crime

IT Management

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With so many deals, coupons, and social activity revolving around location, it's not really surprising that popular location-aware app WhosHere recently exceeded 3 million downloads. According to Stephen Smith, the co-founder of myRete, which is the maker of WhosHere, the downloads have increased 53 percent since the first of the year.

WhosHere is about "creating a new network for yourself that's detached from the social graph." Smith also said, "You're completely in control of your personal information, your identity, and your location."

In other words, users can customize their profiles and determine how much and how little information is available to others. Users can then communicate with one another through free VoIP calls and text and image messages. All this communication can be done with or without any personal identification being revealed as well.

WhosHere was also recently used in helping to put a sex offender behind bars. The company was contacted by law enforcement and was able to provide them with information to put the criminal in jail.

"You put 3 million users into a room, and there's going to be the occasional bad actor," said Smith.

Why is it that some people take a good idea and abuse it? Let us know your thoughts.

If you recall, there have also been incidents involving sexual predators on sites such as Facebook and MySpace. In fact, former Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal was one of the leaders that pushed for stronger protections on these sites including preventing convicted sex offenders from using the sites and limiting older users in their searches of members under the age of 18.

While it's never a good idea for an offender to strike, in this case, in particular, it was really not smart at all, given the site is a location-aware app... ☺

"If you're going to commit a crime... the worst place you could do it is on a location-aware application," Smith said.

WhosHere has since been praised for its assistance in the case and was even asked to contribute to a series of best practice tips that the FBI presents to schools. Smith also gave us some "common sense" tips that users should apply with all social networking apps and sites:

-    Don't give out personal information
-    Don't tell where you are
-    Be sensible about what you share about yourself (e.g. phone number)

At this point, WhosHere is only available on the iOS platform, but thanks to some recent changes to Android, Smith said we could expect the app on Android and other platforms in the near future.