I sometimes wonder whether or not app developers read the news stories about apps that are like their own? Did After School not think that its app would suffer the same fate as Yik Yak or others before it?
As a refresher, After School is an app that provides an anonymous site for high school age teens to post their thoughts and feelings on life with fellow high schoolers. The app, like others, quickly was used for cyberbullying and other inappropriate content posted by teens. After School did not close down the app after negative publicity but did work to retool its features. The goal was to stick to their mission and increase safety. The app now has a zero tolerance policy for hateful content.
The app also has created multiple layers to ensure safe posting by users. The first change is that now every single post on the app is reviewed by a human for approval before it is posted. This “Human layer” ensures that truly harmful posts will not even make it to the public forum. Another layer of safety included now involves potential self harm. If a user posts a message that may indicate they want to harm themselves, the app will ask the user if they want to actually talk to someone.
On the user end, other safety measures were added. After School now allows parents to restrict the app via passwords and to restrict the content of the app. Users are not allowed to use profanity unless they are at least 17 years old and the app can verify that by being shown a picture of the users ID.
I am pleased to see that these types of anonymous apps are taking safety precautions now but I wonder why these things are not in place from the time they launch the app. We know that some teens will use these apps to bully others and send mean messages. Why does it take bad press before an app creator takes safety precautions?
Learn more about what kids are doing online at www.thenewsageofsexeducation.com