Instagram Launches “Stories”: What Parents Should Know

I’ve found, over the past year, the best way to describe the difference between Instagram and Snapchat is by looking at how we share. For Instagram we are highlighting moments from our day or week in a one off way that sticks around forever. Snapchat allows a you to share so much more by posting a continuous stream of pictures and video clips into a mini-movie called a story. As each segment of your story is posted, it received a 24 hour expiration. After one day, it’s gone.

This past week, Instragram launched the “Stories” feature on its app. Instagram fully gives credit to the creators of Snapchat for the idea for the sharing format. In a recent interview Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom admitted, ” “They deserve all the credit,” but insisted “This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.”

Despite it’s insane popularity, sharing on Facebook-owned Instagram was down 15% in the beginning of 2016. The reasoning, according to Systrom, is that people don’t want to overwhelm their friends feeds with photos so they are selective about what is posted and as a result don’t post as often. “Stories” allows people to share those “in between” moments.

Systrom explains that “It basically solves a problem for all these people who want to take a ton of photos of an event or something in their lives, but want to manage what their profile looks like and not bomb feed, obviously, as that’s one of the no-nos on Instagram.”

Facebook has attempted this before with other apps like Poke, Slingshot, and Instragram Bolt but people didn’t want yet another app to keep up with. Instead of trying to create something new, Instagram has decided to go with what works.

Here’s the breakdown of the differences and similarities between the apps:

The same

  • The Stories format laces the last 24 hours of 10-second-max photos and videos you’ve shared into a slideshow you can tap to fast-forward through
  • Everything you post disappears after 1 day
  • You shoot full-screen in the app or upload things from the last 24 hours of your camera roll (recently added to Snapchat with Memories)
  • You adorn your photos with drawings, text, emojis and swipeable color filters
  • You can save your individual Story slides before or after posting them
  • Your followers voluntarily tap in to pull your Story and view it, instead of it being pushed into a single feed
  • People can swipe up to reply to your Stories, which are delivered through Instagram Direct private messages
  • You can see who’s viewed your Story

Different

  • Instagram Stories appear in a row at the top of the main feed instead of on a separate screen like Snapchat, and are sorted by who you interact with most, not purely reverse chronological order like Snapchat
  • Anyone you allow to follow you on Instagram can see your Instagram Stories, though you can also block people, as opposed to building a separate network on Snapchat
  • You don’t have to be following someone to view their Instagram Stories, which can be viewed from their profile as long as they’re public
  • You can swipe right or tap the Stories icon in the top left to open the Stories camera, as opposed to Snapchat defaulting to the camera
  • You can hold the screen to pause a slideshow, or tap the left side to go back a slide, as opposed to Snapchat’s time-limited, constantly progressing Stories
  • You can’t add old content to Instagram Stories unless you re-import or screenshot, while Snapchat lets you share old Memories with a white border and timestamp around them
  • Instagram offers three brush types for drawing: standard, translucent highlighter and color-outlined neon, as opposed to Snapchat’s single brush
  • Instagram offers custom color control for drawing with an easy picker, as well as pre-made palettes like earth-tones or grayscale, while Snapchat custom color control is much more clumsy
  • Instagram currently lacks location filters, native selfie lens filters, stickers, 3D stickers and speed effects, but you can save content from third-party apps like Facebook-owned MSQRD and then share them
  • You can’t see who screenshotted your Instagram Story, while Snapchat warns you
  • You can’t save your whole day’s Story like on Snapchat, but you can post slides from your Story to the permanent Instagram feed

 

For me, I plan on sticking to Snapchat because I have a lot more control over who can see it as my Instagram account is public. But as a business owner and social media personality, I can see the appeal of utilizing a service with an already established audience.

For more information about “disappearing media” be sure to check out “What Parents Should Know About Snapchat“.

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

Snapchat’s NSFW Lawsuit and What Parents Should Know

JOSH’S NOTE:  The following blog post is going to contain some language that may be offensive to some. Please know that it is only included for the sake of passing along the appropriate information. If you feel that you may be offended you might want to pass on this blog post.

Since its inception, Snapchat has gone through many great changes for users  as well as some done for the sake of increasing revenue. Once such feature is the “Discover” area where users can look into trending topics like the recent Pokemon Go craze or taking a walk down the red carpet. Recently, a number of topics showing up have been a little bit more off color than should be made available the Snapchat’s rated audience of “Teens.”

snapchat-600Attorney Mark Geragos has taken notice of this issue and has taken action by filing a class action lawsuit against the company for allegedly exposing children to “sexually explicit” content through the Discover Tab.

Geragos is seeking a $50,000 payout for each alleged violation of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.

HISTORY LESSON! The Communications Decency Act of 1996 was the government’s attempt to regulate pornography on the internet. More through the link.

Geragos is claiming that Snapchat has violated this act through allowing content such as “I Got High, Blown and Robbed When I Was a Pizza Delivery Guy,” “What It Is Really Like to Let People Finger You in Public” and a BuzzFeed post entitled “23 Pictures That Are Too Real If You’ve Ever Had Sex With a Penis.”

Geragos is also requesting that the courts require that Snapchat warn users of NSFW (Not Safe For Work) or inappropriate content.

Snapchat is also facing suit in the state of Illinois over face-scanning technology which one man claims is in violation of the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act. More on both stories to follow as they develop.

Another recent lawsuit saw the app developers being sued when a speeding teenager was in a near-fatal accident while trying to snap a high MPH filter.

For parents I recommend keeping an eye on the content your kids are being exposed to through their favorite apps and setting expectations for their use of them.

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

What Parents Should Know About Fling

It would seem that there will be no shortage of strange new apps to talk about.  This latest inductee into the messaging app hall of famefling puts a strange twist on the world of photo messaging.

Fling, which launched to mixed reviews and a top 5 spot in the App Store in mid-June, is the latest in the trend of random messaging. Like I mentioned, there’s a twist.

At first glance, I thought Fling was just another Snapchat. I was both right and wrong.

The app functions as a bit of a virtual message in a bottle. Users create content (text, picture or video) and share them.

The content is “flung” around the world to up to 50 random users. The recipients can view the content and can choose to engage the originator in chat or ignore the content entirely. Receipts can view the originator’s username and general location from which the fling was flung. The content creator can watch their message fly around the world.

It would seem that the overall popularity of the app is coming and going. When it launched in mid-June the app shot to the top of the charts. Since then it has dropped off the top 100 list despite over 250 million “flings”. Part of the reason for the decline might be the lack of availability on the Android platform (though its creators promise that it’s in the works).

Here are some key points for parents on the app:

Privacy

Similar to popular apps like Snapchat and Kik Messenger, Fling functions on usernames.  Normally this is enough to keep users safe and free from unwanted messages. Since Fling randomly sends out your content to random people, you are willingly handing off this information to strangers.

As I mentioned when a fling is flung, recipients receive the originators username and general location. An early bug reveal exact locations but this has since been corrected and limits this to the country of origin.

How much information revealed is up to the users. Once chat has been engaged, users can give out personal information like phone numbers, other app usernames and exact locations.

Privacy is in the eye of the beholder it would seem in the case of this app. I would recommend for users, selecting a different username from your norm (using the same username across apps and sites is generally NOT recommended).

Sexting/Content

10 minutes. That’s how long I was a member of the app before I received sexually explicit content from a complete stranger. Of the five replies to my inaugural fling (a picture of my new kitten) one of them was a picture of a man’s genitals. While one would hope that their teen is smart enough to avoid such dangers but mistakes do happen. Making sure that your kids understand the consequences of sexting both the legal and non-legal ramifications. It’s important to take the time to think before you make a mistake that could affect you now or in the future. This content is permanent and won’t be going away any time soon. The added risk is that this content is being sent to complete strangers all over the world.

Like a good chunk of messaging apps, there are no restrictions on content being created or sent so the chances of your child simply receiving unwanted explicit messages are great. The app store even warns against Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes, Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity, Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References, Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor.

Users are able to report unsavory content when it’s been received. Fling has access to each of the messages sent and will investigate and suspend users as it deems necessary.

Why Parents Should Be Concerned About Fling

Right away the app reminds me of how I felt about Omegle. You are sharing with complete strangers around the world. This, right away, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t like the idea of sharing with users unknown around the world and parents should feel the same.

The app is rated 13+ meaning that, like most apps, users must be at least 13 years of age to download the app. Make sure for your younger kids that you have restrictions in place for the app store and Google Play.

Additionally, use this opportunity to have that regular check-in with your kids about the apps they are using and the behavior you expect from them. Help them understand your feelings about sharing and chatting with strangers and what some of the ramifications of those actions can be.

Remind them about sharing too much information and how even a picture can reveal too much sometimes!

It’s important to remember that it’s not technology that’s causing problems, it’s how we are using it!

Until next time!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

SnapChat Seems a bit Fruity Lately

It would seem that security is once again an issue on popular social app SnapChat.( You might remember the App from my entry this past summer highlighting what parents should know.) Once again the users of the App have found their security compromised.

Back in December the App was hacked and millions (4.6 million to be exact) of users phone numbers were exposed by a group wanting to call attention to security flaws within SnapChat.run-by-fruiting-mrs-doubtfire

SnapChat, in turn, responded with “Snap-chas” a security test similar to “Captchas” we’ve become so used to seeing on almost every website. The security tests involve spotting Snapchat’s ghost mascot in a group of nine different images before tapping on the images with the ghost in. The puzzles will attempt to prevent hackers from stealing phone numbers of users.

It’s not worth getting excited about- hackers broke through that security feature in a matter of hours.

This latest security breach involves run-by fruitings. Some friends e-mailed me saying that they have been receiving Snaps of Smoothies with a fishy-looking URL. A quick search has revealed that theirs and friends accounts have been hacked. The link takes you to a weight-loss suppliment site (if your curiosity is burning).

I would advise changing your password (and like with all passwords, change it regularly).

In addition it’s important to remember that using the same username and password for multiple social networking sites (while easy to remember) can put our information at risk. Once a hacker has one, they have everything.

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

What Parents Should Know About SnapChat

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about some of the Apps that are growing in popularity among teenagers. One of the biggest has been SnapChat. SnapChat is a photo messaging system that allows users to send photos and videos to their contacts. Users set a limit of up to ten seconds for how long the media can appear on the other users phone. From there, the media disappears from the other users device and is deleted from the company’s servers. Seems innocent enough, right? Maybe not. Now I don’t want people to get too concerned because plenty of users are following the rules and regulations of both the app and basically, common sense. The problem are those who aren’t.

If I’ve said it before and I’ll say it time and time again, the best thing that parents can do is have a conversation about what their kids are getting up to in the mobile world. Talk to them about what Apps are acceptable to be using and what you expect from them as digital citizens.  Find out how they and their friends are using the application and how you can get involved in the fun!

SnapchatPic

 

Privacy
Like all apps and social networking sites, it’s important to understand the best ways to keep yourself safe. SnapChat’s settings are pretty basic and allow you to protect yourself by controlling who is able to send you “Snaps.” The default for the program is “Friends Only” and, as always, I suggest keeping it that way. This way, only approved friends are able to send you content to your device.

Friends
Keeping your friends real is the best thing you can do with this app and all social networking. My general rule of thumb is: if they aren’t a contact in my phone, they aren’t my friends. I would even expand that out to: if I’ve never been in the same room as this person, I’m not going to be their friend. In the digital world you can’t be too safe!

Passwords
Pick a smart password and keep it to yourself. If someone were to get a hold of your password they would be able to send “snaps” as you and create a lot of problems. My favorite rule is this: treat your password like your toothbrush- change it often and don’t share it with anyone!

Sexting
The biggest concern for this application is sexting. It allows for someone to share a sexually explicit photo or video with someone albeit for a limited period of time. While one would hope that their teen is smart enough to avoid such dangers but mistakes do happen. Making sure that your kids understand the consequences of sexting both the legal and non-legal ramifications. It’s important to take the time to think before you make a mistake that could affect you now or in the future.

Why Parents Should Be Concerned (This Media Is Forever)
Here’s the problem with SnapChat. Kids have it in their head that the “Snaps” they are sending disappear after the allotted time they’ve designated. This isn’t necessarily true. Users receiving the “snaps” can take a screen capture on their phone, preserving the photo. If your child is sending something inappropriate or explicit, it can be saved and redistributed, leading to a slew of problems including legal issues.

Like files on your computer, when the image disappears, it doesn’t really go away. In May of 2013, Forbes reported that these pieces of media don’t actually disappear and with minimal knowledge, the can be retrieved from the receiving device. You can read the report by clicking here.

With all of this in mind, I encourage parents to stay on top of the kind of media their kids are creating whether it’s on the computer or with their mobile devices. By staying knowledgeable about these issues and keeping an open line of communication with your child you can avoid problems that can arise.

As always, should you have any questions about SnapChat or other media please feel free to e-mail me at info@joshgunderson.com

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.