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Facebook Launches App for Teens… and it has no Privacy Controls

Written by Cassie Griffith

Facebook just developed a new stand-alone app for their younger audience called “Lifestage”. Lifestage is designed for the typical high-school age individual and creates video profiles for teenagers. It will also link students to others in their school. It was created by a 19 year old who has had previous success with developing other apps for teens. This is an attempt to bring the younger crowd back into the platform, because users in that demographic have been steadily declining for Facebook. The app is being compared to Snapchat because it’s centered around uploading images and videos rather than text updates.

(Watch the introduction to this app from CNET):

Privacy advocates are concerned about the new app because “there is no age verification, anybody can claim to be from a local school, and there are no settings to control who sees your videos” (Telegraph UK). Like with traditional Facebook, users are required to give out a lot of personal information about themselves. This could create a haven of sorts for malicious individuals who would have access to a wealth of information, including location data, from young students. Teens are also encouraged to link their other social profiles. With no screening or privacy controls, teens could be put at risk – is Facebook so desperate to grow its user base that it is willing to do this?

An interesting tidbit about the new Lifestages app is that it reminds us of the exclusivity Facebook used to provide in its beginnings. The app will roll out on a school by school basis. All schools will start out locked, but once 20 people from a school sign up – the app will be available to that particular school. So unlike Facebook in 2004, an .edu email is not required for sign-up.

Photo Credit: Mely Cg – Flickr Creative Commons

About the author

Cassie Griffith