By Komando Staff, Komando.com …..
Facebook’s main goal is connecting people but they’ve realized that not too many teens are using their social media platform to connect. Adolescents seem to prefer Snapchat and Instagram, possibly because of the flashy filters you can use to customize photos and videos. In an effort to garner more high school-aged users, this week Facebook released a new, free app.
But the internet has never really been a safe place for children. Many experts are concerned that this new app will not do a good job of protecting their underaged users.
Facebook’s new app is called “Lifestage,” and it’s meant to capture just that – the teen’s personality in their current stage of life. They can upload videos and pictures to share their interests and pet peeves to build a profile that gives viewers a sense of who they are at this point in time. They can customize it with silly cartoon filters too and their friends can respond with videos, templates or emojis.
The app is only meant for teens and young adults, ages 13 through 21, and you must select the high school you attend.
If you try to create an account that says you’re older than 21 then you can’t see any other profiles. But there’s no strong defense system to stop older users from lying about their age and pretending to attend a particular high school. To combat this problem, they encourage teens to report people who seem suspicious or too old.
Once 20 students from a particular school have created profiles, that school becomes “unlocked” and then you can see kids who attend other schools. The idea is that teens will connect and make friends with other teens in their community who have similar interests.
If a predator were to build an account, they would have access to where your child goes to school and possibly where they hang out after school based on the interests in their profile.
Facebook says the fact that you must use your cellphone number to register and only one number is allowed per account is an added level of security. The account set-up process also requests your Snapchat and Instagram usernames so that you can connect with others outside the app.
The registration process also makes it very clear that anything you post can be viewed by anyone who has the app. But there’s no accessible log of the people who are viewing the content you post.
All of these flaws are very alarming. Since the app is so new, improvements should hopefully be made before most teens create an account. We suggest that you hold off on letting your kids use it until more security measures are put in place.
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