Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Never one to rest on its laurels, THE social media network Facebook has cooked up something new for a specific demographic of its massive user base: teenagers in school. It’s a new mobile app that works independently from FB, for video-only social networking, now only available for download on the Apple App Store since Friday August 19. They call it “Lifestage”, but social network veterans would probably say it was a copy of Snapchat.

According to Tech Crunch, Lifestage works by asking the user a series of questions about themselves: how they look when happy or sad; likes and dislikes; best friend; favorite things or activities and several other items. The thing is, the user answers each question by shooting a video for each reply, then decorating it with a cutesy picture frame design. The Lifestage app edits each clip segment into a unified profile video. Sounds like Snapchat so far.

But here’s the thing: users can’t share their video creations with others. They stay on one’s own Lifestage profile, and other users need to visit in order to see the vids. Furthermore, they are permanent and are not periodically purged like in Snapchat.

Then there’s the age limit in place for Lifestage. Anybody can download it on the App Store and create their own profile vids, but if the user is at least 22 years old, they’re stuck with only being able to look at their own profile. It’s the users 21 and below who can view one another, and even then the app’s networking is rooted in schools. A new Lifestage user must first enter his high school onto the app, and no viewing of other profiles is available until the school is listed to have at least 20 Lifestage users with profiles already. This system sort of encourages teens to ask their classmates to join in the network. Come to think of it, that’s how Facebook originally grew from its school-only beginnings into the international giant that it is today.

What’s also amazing is the app’s creator, Facebook product manager Michael Sayman, who is only all of 19 years old. Raised in Miami by Peruvian and Bolivian parents, he watched Google tutorials at age 13 and taught himself how to code, eventually creating some simple yet popular mobile apps that eventually landed him a place in Facebook, scouted by Mark Zuckerberg himself.

There remain some worries about Lifestage however, due to a lack of registration security – users could fake their ages and videos without anyone being the wiser – as well as questions of longevity. Facebook has tried some earlier versions of teen-only apps like “Slingshot” and “Poke”, both of which have now shut down. Currently the Lifestage app has seen ambivalent reception in the App Store. Only time will tell.

Photo Credit to money.cnn.com