Facebook has a new app. This one is aimed at Generation Z (teens). The app is supposed to allow teens to use Facebook in a secure way (mostly by allowing users to take video selfies more than anything else), but the social network has missed one big piece of the puzzle.
The app doesn’t offer teens a way to control who sees what they post.
Missing the Big Picture
It’s hard to figure out why Facebook wouldn’t provide teen users with a way to control the content that is posted on the new app (the app is called ‘Lifestage’). Lifestage was developed for people under the age of 21. The app was created to make it simple for teens to share an online profile of who they are with classmates - kind of based on the original Facebook idea.
Lifestage prompts teens to take videos of smiles, frowns, friends, school, and some other things in life, and offers teens the option of choosing frames and animations to go along with the videos. Yes, this is like Snapchat. Or, I should say, it’s another ‘Snapchat like’ social network option.
The Snapchat Factor
Instagram openly took some cues from Snapchat with the company’s newest Stories feature. But let’s not forget that Instagram is now Facebook, so what worked for Instagram (Stories is really popular) might work for Facebook. But this time around, Facebook framed the Snapchat-esque app for teens.
Why? Because teens are the driving force behind Snapchat. It makes sense that Facebook would target Snapchat’s demographic. The other thing that Facebook did with Lifestage is to be open and honest about the app’s lack of privacy.
When a Lifestage account is created, there is a bold and big warning that states that the app is not private and that Facebook/Lifestage cannot verify that someone is who they claim to be. So why the big fuss about privacy?
The Teen Factor
When companies target teenagers, a few things happen. One of those main things is based on privacy and legalities. It’s responsible of Facebook to warn users about a lack of privacy. But it’s irresponsible to do so as well. When it comes to teens, privacy is always a concern and many parents want to remind Facebook that even though a privacy warning exists, it’s not enough.
Often, adults forget what they post on the Internet. Teens forget as well. So while a teen might think they are talking to someone from another school on Lifestage and post images of their friends and, say, their home or other personal details, they might be talking to someone that’s falsely representing themselves - and Facebook doesn’t want any liability where that is concerned.
This is the issue at hand. Should Facebook be liable for content posted on Lifestage? Or is it enough for the company to simply warn users that the accounts are not verified or private? There are also no privacy controls on the accounts at all - another concern for parents and watchdogs. The app is now live on iOS and Android.