Will Facebook’s Lifestage App Appeal to Teens?

(Photo: Tech Crunch)

(Photo: Tech Crunch)

Facebook has launched a new app called Lifestage, which is designed specifically to appeal to teenagers. However, concerns have been raised about its privacy settings.

Teenagers can upload pictures and videos which are then turned into profiles. The app has no messaging feature, but users can display contact details for other services like Instagram and Snapchat.

All posts are public and can be seen by any member of the same school. Students can view each other's profiles once the school has 20 registered users.

According to Josh Constine of Tech Crunch, Lifestage asks users to show off their happy face, sad face, likes, dislikes, best friend, dancing style, and more. The more questions you answer, the more questions are unlocked. Like in games, people can level up if they've answered more questions.

It's designed to compete with Snapchat, said Sharon Gaudin of Computer World. However, videos don't disappear.

There is no need to have a Facebook account to sign up.

Lifestage reminds users that there is no way of knowing whether users are genuine. However, users can be blocked and reported with only a swipe.

Users over the age of 21 are only able to view their own profiles, according to Zoe Kleinman of the BBC News.

Dr. Bernie Hogan from the Oxford Internet Institute said that the benefits of openness come with potential problems related to privacy:

"The lack of privacy settings on this app in its current state is indicative of Facebook ideology — which is to stay open and connected as much as possible.

"From their point of view that's a great idea but sometimes being so open can get in the way of getting connected. They already know this as people become reluctant to share things online if they have to share them with everyone.

"It seems yet again that they are trying to push the boundaries of what we think is appropriate to share online and then walking back when they face public criticism."

Presumably, the app was created to harness the teen demographic, which has been moving away from Facebook due to the influx of older, less "cool" users. Teenagers are seeking a social network that their parents aren't also using, and Lifestage aims to recapture the days before Facebook had exploded into a phenomenon.

Currently, the app is only available on Apple devices in the US. It has a 2.5-star rating in the Apple store.

19-year old Creator Michael Sayman was raised in Miami by his parents from Peru and Bolivia. At age 13, he taught himself to code with Googled coding tutorials. His previous app creation include a source of Club Penguin tips and 4Snaps, a photo-charades app that made it to number one on the word games chart. Mark Zuckerberg invited him to come and visit Facebook, create a special presentation for its F8 conference, and then become an intern.

According to Hope King of CNN Money, Facebook has already released two apps to appeal specifically to teenagers: Slingshot and Poke. Both are now shut down.

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