What you need to know about self-destructing, anonymous and encrypted apps and protecting your digital footprint

Self-destructing, anonymous, privatexting and encrypted define the latest trend in apps for the younger generation, and increasing among professionals, with the most popular being SnapChat.
These apps are being heavily used by students from high school to college to capture whimsical, YOLO moments as well as sharing their thoughts and opinions through these mediums. Another demographic, the professionals, are latching onto these apps to protect their digital footprint by using the destructible feature as a way to communicate sensitive information. This form of non-traceable communication is on the rise and funding is pouring from investors to build them (founders just need to find a way to monetize them) – so expect more of these apps to roll out in the near future.
Kristy Siefkin, reporter from Fox 10 News, joined me in breaking down what you need to know about these apps, and how to protect yourself, or your child, from the dark side of the digital footprint.
Self-destructing apps remove all traces of a text/photo/etc. within a time frame after the recipient(s) read the post. Kids are loving them because of the fun, whimsical nature of the platform and there is plenty of peer pressure to go along with it; even big brands and TV shows (GLEE) are jumping on board to connect with the younger generation by “snapping” fun and clever pictures to their followers. Parents need to know that while the information is marketed as deleted, there are ways to download information, whether it be through a screenshot, the ability for replay, or simply video the interaction. The most popular ones include SnapChat, Confide, Blink and Wickr.
Snapchat-SnapChat (12+ rating, wide-age range)  – recipient can view a photo or video between 1-10 seconds, choose one re-snap per day, the app has a screenshot notification and an option to save their picture to a camera roll and build a MyStory (photo diary).
confide-app-iconConfide (4+ rating, professionals) – an off-the-record messenger, the recipient swipes across message and once its seen it disappears from both sender and recipient.
Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 1.33.36 PMBlink (4+ rating, wide-age group) – user can send text, voice, sketches, video and photos. All messages are encrypted and have time restrictions. Users can draw sketches with friends in real-time or chat 1:1 in a private setting.
wickr_app_iconWickr (4+ rating, wide-age group) – an off-the-record messenger with military-grade encryption of any text, photo, audio and attachments with time restrictions. Once it’s seen it disappears from both sender and recipient. The company offers many security options for the user, such as a manual shredder option which runs a scan of your device to make sure the communication is totally gone; it also claims military-grade encryption on their servers as well.
Anonymous apps offer an open forum to share information or ones’ thoughts without identification. All of these listed are geo-located, meaning, the conversation only happens with people within a certain radius from the user. College students to young professionals are using these apps as a way to vent, offer their opinion, gather information or advice or find out what is going on around them. Parents need to know that YikYak has been upgraded to a 17+ rating because of the bullying factor that has occurred in high schools. Most importantly, users need be aware that many of the conversations and confessions within these forums are R-rated. The most popular ones include Secret, Whisper and YikYak.
secret appSecret (12+ rated, wide age group) – provides the ability to speak freely with friends with no names or profiles attached. Friends can love your post, and posts can spread across the US if shared. Users can add photos or backdrops to their thought of the day.
mzl.cocjheqnWhisper (17+ rated, teenager to college) – where one can share their confessions in an anonymous setting to those within a 0.5-10 mile radius. It protects ones’ Whispers with a passcode. A stock photo is automatically selected to pair with your confession-and some are more suggestive than others. Other Whisperers can like, reply or DM you. This platform had to most explicit conversations.
Yik-Yak-ICON-LARGE-600x600YikYak (17+, college) – a private Twitter-like app where one can have an open conversation with those within a certain radius (near-by up to 5 miles) and up to 500 people at one time.
To learn more about mobile apps we’ve covered at AZTB, click here.