Facebook's New App for Kids Creates Privacy Concerns

Lifestage Makes Everything Public

By Published on .

For now, Facebook's Lifestage app is only available for iPhones.
For now, Facebook's Lifestage app is only available for iPhones.  Credit: Facebook

Facebook's new teen-targeted app is drawing privacy concerns.

The app, dubbed Lifestage, was built for high-schoolers to share videos and connect locally, but it lacks privacy settings, requests personal information and makes all content public.

Lifestage comes with this disclaimer in the Apple App Store:

"Please note: Everything you post in Lifestage is always public and viewable by everyone, inside and outside your school. There is no way to limit the audience of your videos. We can't confirm that people who claim to go to a certain school actually go to that school. All videos you upload to your profile are fully public content."

Lifestage is being viewed as an attempt by Facebook to keep its services fresh for a new generation of social media users, many of whom have embraced rival Snapchat.

The app launched Friday and is only available for iPhones in the United States. It had just a few reviews in the App Store, but reviewers expressed some privacy reservations.

One person didn't like that Lifestage asked for a Snapchat username. "I don't like how much information you have to give out," the reviewer wrote. "I don't want my phone number to be known nor do I want everyone to know my Instagram and Snapchat. I could not figure out how to take a picture or why my school was needed. Like I said, I don't want all my information out there."

Lifestage is an attempt from Facebook to recapture its own youth in some ways, too. It is similar to Facebook's earliest days when it was mostly for local college students to discover each other. It grew by jumping from one campus to the next.

Lifestage could grow similarly and it encourages high-school students to get classmates to join so it can expand from one school to another.

The app works by asking students to upload video profiles of themselves and view ones created by other students. They also post their usernames from other social platforms, such as Instagram and Snapchat, which is where the students would have to communicate. Lifestage does not let students message each other.

There are some safety measures, including the fact that a person needs a working phone number to sign up. They also have to be 21 or younger to view any of the content.

"We are releasing Lifestage to a limited number of high schools," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "Lifestage will not provide access to content from other people for users who list an age above 21. We encourage anyone using the app who experiences or witnesses any concerning activity to report it to us through the reporting options built into the app. We take these reports seriously. Unlike other places on the web, Lifestage is tied to a person's phone number and only one account is allowed per phone number -- this provides an additional level of protection and enforcement."

Most Popular