Privacy is Dead

Celeb Spotter App Lets Users Tip Off the Paparazzi

Morally dubious, but tons o' fun!

Just your everyday run-of-the-mill celeb. (Photo: Celeb Spotter)

Just your everyday run-of-the-mill celeb. (Photo: Celeb Spotter)

The relationship between celebrities and the papparazzi is murky. Stars love to complain about the marauding photogs, but we have a sneaking suspicion that, as the great Jay-Z once said, half the time they’re calling the paparazzi on themselves.

Well, there’s a new app in town (isn’t there always?) that’s making it even easier for celebrities and the paparazzi to find each other. Called Celeb Spotter, it’s being launched in mid-March for photographers and celeb journalists. Later, it’ll also be open to the general public and celebrities’ PR teams to tip off the paps to their clients’ whereabouts.

App developer Ali Zaidi, 24, of Chicago, is behind the app. He’s been in the tech business since he was 14 and he cofounded “one of the biggest Pakistani music websites,” Pakmanzil, he said, as well as Hollywood gossip site Pinkontheweb.com.

Mr. Zaidi explains that Celeb Spotter will verify the spottings by releasing information to photographers and journalists first, who can then go to the alleged locations to get their stories. Of course, this means the first journo at the scene could arrive to find no bold-faced names at all, but that’s the price of doing business.

App users will only be able to see who’s in the city where they’re located, Mr. Zaidi said. Bouncers, doormen and people at airports are often the biggest celeb informants, he added. When they see a celebrity, they can name the location and check off “has arrived” or “is about to leave.” 

“This is not an invasion of privacy since I will be giving out the technology to professional news agencies who employ journalist [sic], photographers, etc.,” Mr. Zaidi said in an email. Okay, sure! 

If the app works, it’ll be a seamless way for stars hungry for PR opportunities to notify the press as to their whereabouts. Of course, it’ll also make it much easier for people to squeal on the whereabouts of celebrities who might genuinely want privacy. 

Follow Molly Mulshine on Twitter or via RSS. mmulshine@observer.com