Facebook alternative to Snapchat, got some images to ‘Sling’?

Yesterday the good people at Facebook rolled out their ‘SnapChat’ rival/competitor. Now to get straight down to business. Unlike SnapChat, where users can send messages back and forth which have a timespan for how long they are available and of course they can’t be saved. Ahem.. Check out my earlier post on Snaphack – the idea behind Slingshot is a little different. At least in how it works.

Now the main difference with ‘SlingShot’ is that it is more of a mass broadcast to a group of friends. Unlike SnapChat’s aspect where users can be observers, SlingShot requires users to get involved. Now the clever developers at Facebook have come up with a creative way to encourage a 2 way approach to sharing of images. If you receive a ‘SlingShot’ from a friend you must first unlock it by – you guessed it -offering something in return. Sneaky I hear you say

As the App is a standalone you don’t actually need a Facebook account to use it. It just needs your phone number in order to sign up and start using it so you can send pictures to a single person or group. But it’s not just photos, videos can also be sent and of course these self-destruct after they’ve been viewed. But we all know we need to be careful with Apps who make these claims. Take note SnapChat.

As the App is just launched today – so quickly after it’s exclusive US launch(wonders did it not catch on?) they have decided to roll it out globally. This App is no different from others of its kind. The best piece of advice I can give to users wanting to tryin this app out is
‘Always remember to think about the content you are sending to other users’. Would you want it to be intercepted by someone else and to end up on a global bill board?

As with sharing or posting anything online – remember the Digital Ninja’s Mantra STOP |THINK |POST Is this Facebook alternative to Snapchat

@waynedenner: Self-Destructing Messages in IOS8 - Good or Bad feature?

I’m a massive fan of Apple. I’ve got the MacBook, the iPhone and the iPad.
For me their device’s have always served me well – their intuitive processes never cease to amaze me. Let’s face it – everything they do within their technological advancements leaves many users in awe. And I’m no different.

Each year, just like Christmas, their annual developers conference rolls around and I can’t help but feel like a child on Christmas morning, waiting to see what I’m going to get from the mighty Apple.

But the outcome of this year’s developers conference was a little different for me – although Apple are going to release a ton of new stuff which will make their users experience better there was one element I felt a little uneasy about.

Apple Messages, which is the most used app on IOS is getting a massive overhaul in IOS8. Now in theory I have no problem with them introducing audio and video chat – something which their competitors, such as WhatsApp, have been offering for a while. But they have decided to take it One Step Further and here is where I start to feel a little anxious – with their plan to introduce self-destructing messages (a la SnapChat) if you will.

We’ve seen all too well how Self-Destructing Message Apps don’t actually self-destruct or indeed delete, they can still be found kicking around and coming back to haunt the users who sent them.

This I feel, is an element that Apple really doesn’t need to introduce or get involved with just yet. I am a massive Fan and will remain one – but this new feature is something, that I for one don’t need on the next IOS update and I hope Apple rethink their plan to include Self-Destructing Messages on their next update in light of the potential dangers associated with mis-use, particularly to younger users that can come with this feature.

So it’s a feature in IOS8 of to be aware of…

Can the ‘Truth’ Hurt? New App ‘Truth’ has the Potential

It seems the anonymous messaging craze continues to grow with new Apps being launched every week. Over the past few months I’ve looked at a number of them with the aim of keeping Parents informed on the Whats What of their children’s social media use and young people aware of how to protect their Online Reputation.

Now Parents, you will be able to breathe a brief sigh of relief as this App is only currently available in North America and Canada – but nevertheless I still felt the need to write this blog ahead of its launch in other regions, which may be in the not- so- distant future.

The App is called ‘Truth’. Basically how it works is you download it to your Smartphone (currently only available on IOS) Apple, but the developers are working on a version for Android. The App then allows you to anonymously message your friends via your Phone contact list. Now what’s different about this App, unlike others I’ve reviewed lately is that if the receiver of the message is not currently a Truth user ie they don’t have the App downloaded onto their phone, they will receive a text message showing them parts of messages to them with a prompt to download the App to view the full message. Then when you send a message via ‘Truth’ you are assigned an anonymous username and avatar.

You can see how this sort of facility may fuel growth, with many people simply not being able to resist the urge to download the Truth App and read the full message.

For me the unsettling issue arises around the fact that you can receive a message from someone on your phone contact list and have no idea who sent it if they choose not to identify themselves. No prizes for guessing how an App like this could become a tool for misuse.

Truth has stated in its ‘Ability to Accept Terms of Service’ that users ‘affirm that you are older than 18 years of age’ but as we have seen, all too frequently in the past with most Apps and platforms who outline an age restriction, that enforcing an age limit is a near impossible task.

The main difference with Truth, compared to other Apps such as Whisper and Secret who allow users to broadcast to a community, Truth users can remain anonymous. It’s founder maintains this is a more ‘personalized’, ‘meaningful’ and ‘one-to-one’ type of anonymous messaging.

The App officially launched on April 1st (this is no April Fools I can assure you), in Canada after spending a number of weeks in Beta testing and during that time cracked the Top 100 in the Canadian App store. The App’s developers have said they have controls in place to monitor abusive content but without being able to test the App here in the UK, it’s difficult to see what these might be. One thing is for sure, it’s only a matter of time before this App makes it across the pond to the UK and Ireland so it’s best to be aware of it existence now Parents.

To keep up to date with developments on this and other Apps follow me on Twitter waynedenner

Create and send VMs yes not DMs

It seems #Vine is joining the personal message party and allowing users to create what they call VMs - the new feature which has rolled out basically gives users the facility to create Personal Video Messages (VM) and send it to a friend or multiple friends if you want.

Though a point to remember is that each conversation is one to one so effectively if you want to send a video to 6 Friends you will need to start 6 separate conversations.

Now here’s another interesting part your inbox has basically 2 sections to it Friends (folks you know) and people outside if your network (ones you don’t know)

Now you may want to consider from a safety point of view if your going to be using this feature perhaps turing off your ‘other’ inbox making it so you can only receive messages from people you know - better to be in control of the messages which you receive.

Remember also think about your Online Reputation before you create any content online even if your sending it private it may not remain that way. Don’t forget to STOP|THINK|POST

Check out my other blog posts on www.waynedennner.com/blog

Talking Angela App - What Parents need to know

‘Talking Angela’, one of the last year’s most popular talking apps for ‘children and adults’ has caused some widespread concern amongst parents when a Facebook hoax connected the app with paedophile rings.  The app developers Outfit 7 have stated the Facebook-fuelled claims ‘ridiculous’

 

Now as a parent in this ever-changing digital Smartphone app world we now live in you may want to investigate this a bit further.

If you are not familiar with ‘Talking Angela’ she is part of the Talking Tom and Friends series.  With over 65 million downloads, basically it’s a smartphone app where children can play with an animated ‘talking’ virtual cat.  Users can customise her appearance, get her to repeat words and take part in Angela’s quiz.  So it’s easy to see why kids love this. Maybe it’s just me but the aesthetics and context of the slightly flirty feline who scarcely resembles your common kitten, appealing to children and adults is a little bit uncomfortable.

The app when not operating in ‘child mode’ asks users their name and age. The  reason for these questions is to provide the best possible experience and optimize the app’s content,  say it’s creators.

When in child mode all topics are said to be family friendly with Talking Angela able to determine the most suitable topics of conversation according to a user’s age.

However the real problem is the lack of barrier between children and adult mode modes and the fact that the kids can easily access, from child mode, the Music button which brings them directly to ‘YouTube’ and from there as there is no parental gate, they can scroll down and view comments from adults and older children which may be, and invariably are, inappropriate - not to mention being able to access other content while on YouTube.  This is due largely to the creators want for an app ‘that can satisfy kids and adults’ so they can ‘stay on top of the chart’.

As well as aggregated data collection, Outfit7 admit they collect conversations,  stating, ‘but we are only interested in how certain topics are accessed, and which are the most popular’. Well that’s fine then.?

Outfit7 have said that by Easter 2014 the app will have improved ‘Child Mode’ with password so children can’t toggle out of child mode.  Might have been an idea to address this concern prior to launch though.

Another area of concern and it’s not clear yet if this will be addressed is ‘in app purchasing’ though while this is controversial in games and apps that children use, it is quite common on other apps.

It seems from testing the app that young children really aren’t meant to be using Talking Angela’s text chat, yet the creators have not taken any real measures to prevent younger users from simply toggling the ‘child mode’ off it.    The hoax which started on social media around the dangers of the App is another reminder to  parents that trying these platforms out first before letting our kids use them might be the way forward.  It’s essential that we keep ourselves up to date with this changing landscape – the next new app will be just around the corner.

So here’s my lowdown on main concerns:

  • Child mode/toggle is too easily turned off.
  • It connects too easily to You Tube where children can easily access and view inappropriate videos and adult comments.
  • As with many other apps there’s the risk of in-app purchasing – with real money.

 

What Outfit 7 should do for parents

The developers need to seriously look at introducing a pin or password to make it more difficult for children to turn off child mode. As soon as possible.  Will check this out again at Easter.

So if your child loves the talking angela app and you’re happy to supervise use, go ahead. Use your own judgement and keep an eye on the conversations. But when they’re talking to Angela, I wouldn’t recommend catnapping.

Do we really think about or pay attention to our Online Reputation

Sadly NO! At least we have not begun to take the role of Protecting our Online Reputation seriously. But here’s the thing - once it goes online.. it stays online.

It’s not that it’s difficult to remove. It’s near impossible.

Therefore, Online Reputation, which yours truly has been banging on about on Twitter and Facebook, is serious, and it needs your attention RIGHT NOW

But Wayne stop being over dramatic. Chill. How could a simple tweet or a Facebook post get me in trouble? Well it can, it does and it may cost you some hard earned $$$. $105,000 to be exact in the case of former student of NSW School Andrew Farley who was ordered to pay this amount for “compensatory and aggravated damages” for making false allegations about music teacher Christine Mickle on Twitter & Facebook.

The Judge said the comments had a ‘devastating effect’ on the popular teacher who immediately took sick leave and only returned to work on a limited basis last year.

CAUTION - Be careful what you post and say online. The thing is platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have amazing reach, which is always public and sometimes global. Defamatory comments made on Social media can spread very fast by simply retweeting something on twitter. If found to be untrue, or defamatory this can land you in seriously hot water. ‘But seriously Wayne, it was just a bitta craic I did’nt mean to offend anyone” Pity you retweeted it and republished the comment as now you’re liable.

How can I protect myself?

The thing is, if you don’t want your message appearing on a global billboard don’t post it online. Many people still don’t think they have a problem with their Online Reputation when in fact they do – many of us have no idea of the content which is out in the Interwebs about us or content which others have created about us which we have no idea about. This is the worrying part.

So here’s what you can do

• Set up a Google Alert or Talk Walker Alerts to monitor the Interwebs for any new content about your name.

• Be careful what you say on Twitter, Facebook and Social Networks. Remember my STOP|THINK|POST approach

• Get down with YOUR Privacy settings – Tweak and check these on a regular basis. Remember they differ from platform to platform. Make sure you update these on Smartphones and Tablet devices.

• Be careful with Apps which claim to offer texts and images which vanish. Once you click Send you lose control of this information and where your information can end up.

• Create positive content to counteract any negative results which may be floating about.

Now think about this. What we do today and everyday is recorded and stored without any expiration date or delete button. Something posted as a Teen online or via social networks may still be still kicking around and accessible and may come back to haunt you when applying for your first job or perhaps getting into University. This is the first generation of young people to have to think about this. And the first generation of parents to worry about it too.

Now is the time to start thinking about your Online Reputation and managing your digital footprint. Don’t let it limit your opportunities or land you on the wrong side of the law as a result of some foolish thing you’ve said online.

Online Reputation Matters…. Look after yours.