Vine was introduced a few months ago as the latest and greatest social media application. It’s a video-sharing service owned by and similar to, Twitter. I heard about it from my teenager as a fun new way to share videos with friends and the world. All videos are six-second loops. Sounds harmless, right?
I downloaded the application to check it out. It immediately asked me to verify that I was at least 17 years old. But the kids who told me about it were 14 and 12? At first, it seemed intrusive. It was demanding to know a lot of information about me. But a lot of applications do that. So, I let that go. I gave the app the minimum information required to get it running and refused to sync it with any other accounts. Now, my youngest stepdaughter had just announced she was on Vine, as is my neighbor’s teenager. So I searched for them. And there they were, along with their videos. While I had an option to follow them, I didn’t need to. Their videos were right on my screen, playing on loop, for anyone to see. That made me uncomfortable. So I did more research.
Vine has no privacy settings whatsoever. You can view anyone’s videos and they can view yours. While they have a “search for friends” option, you do NOT have to be friends with someone to view their videos and there is no way to block someone you don’t know from viewing your profile or videos. All you have to do is search and click. Vine has added the option of blocking someone you DO know, however, within the application. You must know who they are, find their profile and click on the option to block. This will only block them from viewing your actual video, at your profile location, within the application. The blocked profile can still view it in search results and still see what others have said about it (comments.) In addition, with online viewing websites becoming available, this option has already become completely useless. The videos are public, no matter how you look at it. A blocked profile can simply go online and view the videos there instead.
But what is particularly disturbing about Vine that children will not know and will likely not ask before signing up, is that the app publishes every bit of information that the user provides. Your name, address, phone number, email, Facebook activity, Twitter information and anything else that Vine has asked for will also be publicly listed within the Vine community. This is a huge security risk for minors.
Check your children’s devices immediately for this application. If they have the application, find out what information they have shared and what other accounts (Facebook, Twitter) they have synced with it. You may want to delete the account entirely and set up a new one. Do some online searches to determine if any personal information has been indexed and shared with other services such as search engines, Spokeo, PeekYou, etc.
You should be searching your children’s user names and real names online regularly to determine what information is publicly available about them. As minors, there should not be any information online. If there is, take steps to have it removed.
If you decide to allow your child to have a Vine account, you may want to consider a separate email to set it up. This email should not have your child’s name, age or location associated with it. The user name should also be an alias. Vine will publicly broadcast any information you provide to them. You should also set up a Vine account using the same safety guidelines and monitor on your child’s videos.
There is already a website that indexes Vine user accounts online. It is searchable and open to the general public. It requires no log on or downloads:
You should check this website regularly to view what your child has posted on Vine as well. Because Vine makes all information within their application public, this website is able to retrieve that information and publish it to the internet without any restrictions. As Vine increases in popularity, there will be more and more websites like this. There are several for each of the major social media sites.
Vine has promised to add privacy settings in a future release. It’s a shame they didn’t think of that already. In an age of identity theft and online predators, they have introduced a product that is a virtual playground for criminals. Be very, very careful with this interactive new application. While sharing with friends and family is fun…sharing every detail of your life with the entire world? Maybe not so much.
- Vine (stefaniehadleyintro2socialmedia.wordpress.com)
- Don’t be FAKE (princessdeficit.wordpress.com)
- # The Stream – Issue 32 (blog.headstream.com)
- What is Vine? (goingfrommisstomrs.wordpress.com)
- Facebook forms alliance with U.S. attorneys general to promote teen privacy (venturebeat.com)
- Managing Your Digital Footprint (whenpamtalks.wordpress.com)