Controversial social app Stolen! has shut down, after being accused of encouraging online abuse. The invite-only game essentially turned Twitter profiles into trading cards, which players were allowed to buy and sell using virtual currency.
However, its big downfall was that it allowed strangers to trade Twitterers without their permission, as signing up to play automatically made the Twitter accounts of everyone that player followed available to purchase. If I signed up, for instance, the likes of Dion Dublin and Odysseus of Ithaca would have been up for grabs. Imagine 'owning' Odysseus. The game's critics also claimed that Stolen! encouraged internet trolls, who could theoretically laugh at you after deciding you were worth purchasing.
After agreeing to clamp down on abuse and allow Twitter users to opt out of the game, Siqi Chen, the founder of Stolen!, made an unexpected U-turn and pulled it altogether, saying:
Our goal with taking it down today has just been to make sure we stop what is happening — that we stop the harm, real and perceived, that people are getting from the existence of our product. We didn't spend hours and months, sweat and tears to build something like this and have people see it this way. This is not who we are.
While I’ve never used the app myself, the Verge’s Casey Newton reports that it was a fun and addictive, if totally pointless, game. [Verge]