Facebook literally lost all of their teen users as soon as apps like Snapchat and massively improved on their features. Lifestage, however, is a standalone app that aims to win back all those users who now prefer to use other social media platforms that provide them more sharing options like “stories”, and not just photos or videos.
This new app from Facebook is specifically targeted at young people ages between 13-19, and is primarily a video-focused platform that has a lot of resemblance with Instagram’s new Stories features, and the structure of Snapchat. And while you have always been able to share your video stories to others on Snapchat, Instagram has recently added this feature that enables its users to create a reel of photos and videos that would last a standard 24-hour period before expiring, permanently.
Lifestage is trying to capitalize on all that aforementioned, i.e. the use video messaging in social media.
Lifestage—what exactly is it?
Now, let’s move on to how you can sign up for Lifestage and what are the exact features.
Lifestage uses quite a similar registration process as that for Facebook—you are asked all the standard biological information like name, email address, likes, dislikes, and even your best friend. But instead of providing textual answers to these sign up fields, you can also use images, and videos that turns into a video with different filters, effects, animations and frames. This video then turns into your profile video that others visitors can see.
The other different feature is how the interacts with its users. For instance, if you answer more of app’s questions, the more the app will engage with you, letting you unlocking different sides of yourself.
Lifestage also has a slight gaming facet to it—so the users who have provided more information to their profile will be ranked higher than others.
Lifestage users can discover others’ profiles through a series of taps and reveal only that information which they are interested in. For instance, if someone want to skip to a specific part could simply jump to it swiping other sections.
To clue for who has made the updates on their profile, and who left it dormant, there are emoji to indicate all that. For example, those who post a new update will have a emoji with sunglasses, and frown and poop emoji for those who left their profiles untouched for too long.
Essentially, Lifestage lets you create your own personal video profile that others can view, but that’s the extend of activity on this app.
Lifestage—how does it work?
Back then when Facebook got released in 2004, it was a social network limited only to college students who required a school email address to interact with others in their circle. With Lifestage, Facebook plans to bring that exclusivity back, allowing only high school students to sign up for the app. Also, you need to be under age of 21 to register for an account. The app aims to provide students to improve their interaction with others in their friends or school
When you are signing up for the account, the app will require you to provide your age. You will only be proceeding with the signup process, if you are between the ages 13 and 21. If you enter an age that doesn’t meet their criteria, you won’t be able to go back and create a new account, because Lifestage is tied to your device and phone number.
Once you have completed the registration, it’s time to check out the list of people from high schools within your vicinity. The app will also require you to provide your school details; after that, you can view others’ video profiles. To boost the app usage, the app has set a parameter that requires you to have at least 20 people in surrounding area. According to the developers of the app, this is basically an attempt to encourage more people to sign up.
Because Lifestage is an another app that aims at young and vulnerable audience, there are definitely some safety concerns that parents need to look at. Security experts have already deemed Lifestage as “hugely concerning” app.
The biggest privacy concern is the privacy settings on the app that unlike Instagram, and Facebook is always set to public (no option to restrict it). And when you sign up for the account, it also issues a disclaimer that makes it clear that all the video posts will be public and there will no way to limit the audience.
Then, there is no confirmation process to check if a certain person actually belongs to the school they have added on their profile. So the only parameters that restricts your profile content to others is your school and surrounding area. There is no way for Facebook to verify if a teen belong to a certain school or not, and this simply implies that your videos are available to virtually everyone.
Even more appalling and saddening is the fact that there is no way for the app to verify the age provided. When you sign up for the account on Lifestage, you just simply list your age—it’s that simple to lie about your age. This means that the app is providing a dedicated portal full of teens where anyone, even child predators can sign up to engage in criminal and illicit sexual activities.
Even with all the drawbacks and basic disclaimers, there a few ways to improve the safety on the app. For instance, if there is some suspicious user who is sharing inappropriate, explicit or dangerous content, can be reported. And then, there are other roadblocks to the safety concerns too. For example, if someone who is above the high school age can be easily identified due to the nature of this app that requires sharing of videos. Also, the sign up process requires a valid phone number and a mobile device would mean a relatively fake expensive sign up process when compared with a fake email account.
Lastly, the public nature of the app makes it difficult for all the bullies, sexual harassers to keep their information private. There is no private chat or sharing option like that on Facebook or Snapchat, so sexting, bullying and all other dangerous acts are a rarity on Lifestage. This public nature of the app also encourages teens to stay real about themselves.
Lifestage poses different kinds of new threats and challenges for teens, but it’s also providing a more lucid and open social networking channel that could actually reduce the chances of bullying and online abuse.
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