Four Social Media Apps That Are Just Plain Scary

  • cynthia_contini

Are Your Teenagers Using These Apps?

Do you ever question what your kid is really doing when buried in her smartphone while you are trying to talk to her? Do you just assume she is texting her buddies? Maybe just an innocent chat with the boy she has a crush on at school?

Only a few years ago it was very easy to keep track of your kids internet usage when the only form of online access was a computer or laptop. With the explosion of smart phone usage among young people that has all changed and sadly, parents are burying their heads. While many parents try to negotiate the apps that make their lives easier like integrating all their work in the cloud, Kids are downloading and using numerous apps that are at the very least worrisome and some are downright dangerous. These are only four that you need to know about.

Tinder

Tinder is an especially invasive app for teenagers.  It is a dating app that uses GPS to track matches. Users can set a specific radius, and they will have the option to match with anyone that is within that distance. Tinder uses Facebook profiles to gather basic information and analyze what is called a user’s social graph, which then matches candidates who are most likely to be compatible. It is based on geographical location, number of mutual friends, and common interests. Here is the Wiki definition of a social graph.

“The social graph in the Internet context is a graph that depicts personal relations of internet users. In short, it is a social network, where the word graph has been taken from graph theory to emphasize that rigorous mathematical analysis will be applied as opposed to the relational representation in a social network The social graph has been referred to as “the global mapping of everybody and how they’re related”

Yikes!!

Tinder allows the users to anonymously like or reject potential matches using a simple swiping gesture. If two users are interested in each other, it is a “match” and Tinder introduces the two users and allows them to chat. The fact that it uses GPS should scar all parents. These are matches made in your backyard!

Whisper

Whisper calls itself “an anonymous social network that allows people to express themselves, connect with like-minded individuals, and discover the unseen world around us. With Whisper, you can anonymously share your thoughts and emotions with the world, and form lasting and meaningful relationships in a community built around trust and honesty. “

Here are some of the problems with Whisper. The app requires access to smartphone features such as the camera and the user’s contact list and is disclosed when the app is downloaded on the Android platform.

The Guardian reports that Whisper holds data in a central database and has developed an in-house mapping tool that allows its staff to filter and search GPS data, pinpointing messages to within 500 meters of where they were sent. Whisper has a policy of sharing user data with law enforcement and privacy experts have noted that the company appeared to require a lower legal threshold for providing user information to authorities than other tech companies.

Whisper also has the ability to target the area of users who have disabled their geographic location.

Ask.fm

This app is set up as a question and answer site and is extremely popular amongst young people. This site has been considered the most dangerous of all sites allowing anonymous cyberbullying to run amuck and was, in the past, entirely unmonitored.

Recent high profile criticism of this app has forced them to put some policies in place and they have published a “safety centre” with guidelines for teens, parents, educators and law enforcement but they do not go far enough in protecting young people. Some of the more worrisome parts of this app:

  • The app allows users to log in using Facebook and Twitter and share postings
  • Privacy Policy notes that the service will still have a record of all questions asked by registered users but cannot track guest users.
  • Blocking users only “blacklists” them but still allows them to see a user’s profile and questions asked.

Snapchat

Snapchat is a very popular app and can be great fun for kids. It is even being used by UNICEF to highlight the lives of 800,000 children who have been forced to flee their homes in northeast Nigeria.

Snapchat is an app that allows users to take photos, videos and drawings to other users that are displayed for a short period of time and then erased. Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps from 1 – 10 seconds. Users are not supposed to be able to save anything that comes through and Snapchat sends alerts if a screenshot is taken. The problem with this app is that there are many workarounds that can be employed to avoid Snapchat’s screenshot detection and there are numerous blogs showing users how to avoid detection and save snaps and apps are easily available to download .

Parents, wake up and check those apps on your Teen’s and Tween’s phones. Facebook and Instagram aren’t the only games in town!

 

Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_graph

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/16/-sp-revealed-whisper-app-tracking-users