Description: Periscope is one of many new live-streaming apps, similar to YouNow and Meerkat. The app is now owned by Twitter (purchased for $100M in March 2015) and allows users to show their life in real time with followers or complete strangers within Twitter. Periscope is now available on both iOS and Android. Its website has this tagline: “Explore the world through someone else’s eyes.”
Category: Video Streaming
APP Store rating: 4+ (which is a joke, given the risks, but it follows Twitter’s own 4+ rating which is also nonsense).
What parents need to know:
Live Streaming is Risky – live streaming is exactly what it states. There are no rewinds or undo buttons when you are living life in real time with hundreds of followers. Periscope has some differences from YouNow and Meerkat with its ability to replay streams (Periscope automatically saves streams for 24 hours) and set up private networks of friends for video streams. Both Periscope and Meerkat allow users to save any video streams to their phones for permanent storage.
Friends and Comments – Similar to other social media platforms, viewers can “join” or “leave” streams (similar to a “follow” feature), comment and “heart” (similar to “like) in real time. Hearts are the “currency” of Periscope – the more hearts a streamer receives during his/her videos, the higher he/she will climb on Periscope’s “Most Loved” list.
Some Privacy is Possible – There are privacy settings that allow users to stream to a private group of friends or to the whole Twitter world. Once a user decides to “go live,” his/her Twitter followers are notified. But, most young people using the app have no concept of the location cues they are giving with every live stream.
Porn Outlawed but Still Happens – Here are the “Community Guidelines” of Periscope per their website: Do not post pornographic or overtly sexual content, Do not publish explicitly graphic content or media that is intended to incite violence, illegal or dangerous activities (among others). Later on in the Guidelines, it states “Periscope reserves the right to allow sensitive content when it is artistic, educational scientific or newsworthy.” At night is when inappropriate activity becomes more common, with people even live streaming whatever porn video they might be watching.
Some Blocking – Periscope is effectively blocked with the “social networking” category on OpenDNS (you have to manually check this category in OpenDNS). There aren’t any monitoring reports for parents for what is happening on the app.
Many teens will think this app is fun, but as a parent, the live streaming of “life” is frightful, especially for a young internet user. Parents should take extreme caution when deciding if their younger kids should use this app based on the risks noted.