Facebook’s newest application Lifestage that is aimed at teenagers has a serious privacy issue that worries security experts and concerned users. The application relies on self-reporting age to register its users. Content is not going to be provided to anyone who is older than 21.
Lifestage Is a Good Idea, but the Issue Should Be Resolved
Lifestage is a video chatting application by Facebook that aims to compete with competitors like Snapchat. However, the content that the users provide to all of their followers is done not by images or posts but by video messages. The main profile video is composed of three short snippets of video that are taken by the profile owner.
The main privacy issue is a pretty serious one. Upon registration, the application asks for the account owner’s age. If he/she responds with 18 or younger, then registration tool will offer a choice of high school that the owner can identify with. This gives everyone the possibility of interacting with minors without acknowledging their true age and identity. Setting up fake profiles and luring teens into possible criminal activity is a concern among all users who critique the application’s policy.
Facebook have released a statement in which they encourage users to report any “concerning activity” via the built-in option. Lifestage is tied to a person’s phone number, and only one account per number is allowed. According to the application’s developers, this provides an additional level of security.
Lifestage could be a good idea, and the fact that Facebook is behind its development may help to attract users to the new platform. If Lifestage quickly catches up with its competitors, then the staff behind the application may change their stance on their current policy to mitigate the concerns. For now, we encourage all users to be careful and not to trust everyone who states that they are a teenager.