Social media apps could be dangerous for users - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Social media apps could be dangerous for users

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Social media apps could be dangerous for users (WFSB) Social media apps could be dangerous for users (WFSB)

A new trend in social media has parents on alert.

Social media programs like Meerkat and Periscope allows users to document anything happening in their lives.

However, teens are leaving themselves vulnerable, and experts have a cautionary message to help keep them safe.

With those social media programs, live streaming is as easy as a click of a button.

“Taking us behind the scenes on things that we've never seen. That's very cool,” said Scott Driscoll of Internet Safety Concepts.

He said Periscope and Meerkat gives everyone a chance to share their story, live. However, there is a dark side.

Periscope works with GPS letting viewers know where that person is, at any given moment.

But, users might be giving away more private information about themselves than they may realize.

“Let's say if I have my high school diploma behind me as I'm doing something live, and someone sees that, now they got the name of my school. With the map and everything now it narrows down even more, who I am, and where I am,” Driscoll said.

An app user can also see GPS coordinates, so if a teenager is using the app from home, someone else could see exactly where they live.

“If a stranger came into our front door and knocked on our door and said I want to go into your son or daughter’s bedroom and hang out, the parents would call the cops. But on periscope, they're bringing strangers right into their bedroom,” Driscoll said.

Viewers can also communicate during the livestream, which can bring even more trouble, especially if they don’t know each other.

Driscoll also said when strangers can hide behind anonymity, it is the perfect recipe for cyberbullying.

“On Periscope, on Meerkat, on YouNow, there’s ways you can search for any topic you want. Whether it's someone's account, location, or a topic such as pornography. Unfortunately, whenever we have something good, people misuse and turn it the wrong way,” Driscoll said.

Twitter, which owns Periscope, said the GPS feature is optional and users can turn it off before starting a broadcast.

The privacy police also says the app isn’t intended for minors under 13 years of age.

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