MoviePass Disables Location Tracking After Huge Backlash
MoviePass ignited users’ ire yet again this week after its CEO revealed that the app was tracking them wherever we went, regardless of whether the app was open, and was using it to learn more about custumers’ preferences and, more likely, make some money by selling that data to other companies. After swift backlash from users who preferred their movie ticket apps not to have leapt from the pages of a George Orwell novel, MoviePass has quietly disabled the tracking feature.
A March 7 iOS update for the app has now “removed unused app location capability” to disable the geo-tracking feature. “Unused,” yeah, a likely story. That’s not how CEO Mitch Lowe put it. But at least it’s gone (as far as we know). In a statement to Variety, MoviePass explained that users have the ability to choose how much location data the app files away.
Today, MoviePass released a new app update, including the removal of some unused app location capabilities. While part of our vision includes using location-based marketing to enhance the moviegoing experience for our members, we aren't using some of that functionality today. Our members will always have the option to choose the location-based services that are right for them today and in the future.
I don’t really get what location has to do with anything aside from the app knowing which movie theaters you’re near, and even Google can do that. I could see the data being used to see what people were likely to do before and after seeing a movie — whether they go to dinner, where they go to dinner, if that place would be open to a MoviePass partnership in the future, for instance — but without being up front about it with your users, your company is going to look extremely shady when information like this comes out.
Next time your too-good-to-be-true new app also doubles as a way to track people all over the world, unbeknownst to them, maybe don’t crow about it at a business conference. That’s like something a Bond villain would do.