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The Locket and LiveIn App/Widget

May 25, 2022

We have been receiving lots of inquiries from parents and caregivers asking us about the safety, security, and privacy of the Locket and LiveIn Apps – both have exploded with youth who are asking parents for permission to download one, or even both, of these apps. Although both use similar technology, there are some differences that parents, caregivers, and youth should be aware of when it comes to the safety, security, and privacy of these two apps.

Locket:

Locket was originally designed to take advantage of the “widget” function of the iPhone, but it is now also available for use on the Android platform (1). Once the app is downloaded for free, it allows the user to share photos to a maximum of ten friends, think of this app as a “digital locket” located on the home screen of a user’s phone. Teens are loving Locket because it is visual, easy to use, it’s instantaneous, and you don’t have to open an app to see the picture(s). Unlike other social media platforms where pictures can be published (think TikTok, Snapchat, or Instagram) there does not appear to be any kind of AI or algorithm that will curate photos sent.

Concerns:

Most important – pictures sent to a friend’s Locket can’t be deleted from the other person’s phone. Any picture sent on Locket can become public, permanent, searchable, exploitable, copiable, and shareable by the person who receives a picture. Once a picture is sent on Locket, you lose control of it.

Another concern is if the user does not keep track of their data usage plan, Locket makes it clear that the user is responsible for any mobile charges that the user may incur when using their product. So, if your teen has a cap on their data plan, unforeseen costs will be seen on their monthly cellphone bill if they exceed their monthly data plan allotment.

Privacy:

  • In order to use Locket, the owner needs to allow the app to share their contact list, from the address book on the user’s phone. This requirement allows the user to send messages to friends and family to join their Locket network. Although Locket states that they do not share this contact info, there is still a possibility that it could be leaked to a third party.
  • It is clear in Locket’s Privacy Statement and Terms of Service that the user grants a license to Locket so that they can use any content that the user is posting without the permission of the owner. As stated by Locket, “For all content you submit to the Services, you grant Locket and our affiliates a worldwide, royalty-free, sub licensable, and transferable license to host, store, cache, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, analyze, transmit, and distribute that content.”
  • Although the app is free, Locket has to make money somehow, so how are they are doing this, as mentioned in their privacy and terms of service, “we may place advertising on the Services, including personalized advertising based on the information you provide us, we collect, or we obtain about you.”

LiveIn:

Much like the Locket app, LiveIn takes advantage of the “widget” function on both the Apple and Android platforms (2). Once the app is downloaded for free, it allows the user to now share photos, but unlike the Locket app, LiveIn also allows the sender to send notes and hand-written doddles to an “unlimited” number of people.

Unlike Locket, with LiveIn you have the ability to share anything sent to the “world”, “followers”, “friends” or “only me”. What this means is that if a user shares content with the world, which is an open public feed, the app allows anyone to connect with and follow the user, even people they don’t know. LiveIn also has a search function where the user can find other users, but it also gives the owner the ability to block anyone who wants to follow them as well.

Much like Locket, teens are loving LiveIn because it is visual, easy to use, it’s instantaneous, you can send messages or doodles, and you don’t have to open an app to view a picture, message, or a doodle sent to you.

Concerns:

Like Locket, pictures sent on LiveIn can’t be deleted from the other person’s phone – again emphasizing that any picture sent on LiveIn can become public, permanent, searchable, exploitable, copiable, and shareable by the person who receives a picture. Also, unlike Locket, LiveIn gives the user the ability to “comment” or “like” anything sent, something that could be weaponized when it comes to cyberbullying.

If the user does not keep track of their data usage plan, LiveIn makes it clear that the user is responsible for any mobile charges that are incurred when using their product. So, if your teen has a cap on their data plan, unforeseen costs will be seen on their monthly cellphone bill if they exceed their monthly data plan allotment.

Privacy:

  • In order to use LiveIn, the user needs to allow the app to share their contact list from the address book on the user’s phone. This requirement allows the user to send messages to friends and family to join their LiveIn network. Although LiveIn states that they do not share this contact info, there is still a possibility that it could be leaked to a third party
  • It is clear in the LiveIn Privacy and Terms of Service that you grant them a licence so that that they can use any content that the user is posting without the permission of the owner. As stated by LiveIn, ” “worldwide, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferrable license to host, store, cache, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, analyze, transmit, and distribute that content,”
  • Although the app is free, LiveIn has to make money so how they are going to do this? – once again a clue can be found in their privacy and terms of service where they state clearly, “We, our affiliates, and our third-party partners may place advertising on the Services, including personalized advertising based on the information you provide us, we collect, or we obtain about you. Advertising may sometimes appear near, between, over, or in your content.”

Our Thoughts:

Should youth be using these two apps? It depends on your comfort level as the parent. It’s not so much about the safety of these two apps, but more about the privacy concerns associated with their use (although appearing to be minor in nature). However, it should be noted that these same privacy concerns are identical to those found on other popular youth social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, or Discord. Remember, when it comes to free apps, we are not their customers, we are their inventory because they are selling our information to advertisers – this is how they make their money.

If we were going to choose between the two apps, we would recommend the Locket App given that pictures can only be sent to a maximum of 10 people that you know, compared to the LiveIn app where pictures, messages, and doodles can be sent to an unlimited number of people around the world. Also, on LiveIn, a user can be searched and contacted by anyone (depending upon privacy settings) – this can’t be done on Locket (yet).

One small risk for both apps – given that photos pop up automatically on the homepage widget, this function could be weaponized where an inappropriate picture, like a nude or porn, could be sent for the purpose of cyberbullying. On the Locket app, you will likely know who sent the picture, whereas on the LiveIn app you may not because “anyone” can send a picture, doodle, or text to your LiveIn app.

We would encourage parents – before you allow your child to download any app, ensure that you have them do their homework first by completing the “Due Diligence Report”, created by our friends at DigitalNutrition, which can be found and downloaded on our web page (3). This report asks a series of questions that need to be answered by your child before an app is approved for use. This report spawns critically thinking in your child specific to the safety, security, and privacy concerns of any app that they are wanting to access and use. When completed and turned in to you as the parent, this report can lead to important family discussions surrounding the safety, security, and privacy of any app, or social network, before being approved and downloaded by your child.

Knowledge and the understanding and application of that knowledge is power. We hope this article will help you, as the parent or caregiver, make an informed decision when it comes to allowing your child to use the Locket or LiveIn app.

Digital Food For Thought

The White Hatter

References:

(1) https://apps.apple.com/us/app/locket-widget/id1600525061 https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.locket.Locket&hl=en_CA&gl=US

(2) https://apps.apple.com/us/app/livein-share-your-moment/id1606780589https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.livehousex.livepic&hl=en&gl=US

(3) https://www.thewhitehatter.ca/parents

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