‘Shots’ App Makes Selfies Safer for Teens
Don’t look now, but your teenage daughter may be taking Shots. I’m not talking about Jack Daniel’s; I mean Shots, a mobile social network built entirely around selfies. The site is best known for the identity of one of its angel investors, a 20-year-old named Bieber.
Regardless of what you think of Mr. Bieber, the selfie-centric social network his name is attached to is a solid project that can encourage network building and sharing among young people, while at the same time discouraging the most typical of hurtful behaviors seen on many other social services. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good.
Today, the 6-month-old startup announced that it now has 1 million members, three-quarters of them females between the ages of 13 and 24. It celebrated by adding a new feature, the ability to reply to someone’s selfie with one of your own.
Getting bullish on bullies
What makes Shots different — aside from the Bieber factor and the presence of Snoop Dogg, Soulja Boy, and random Kardashians among its ranks — is what it isn’t: It’s not a platform for teenagers to bully one another.
The idea behind Shots was to create a social network where teens can express themselves in a positive way, says co-founder John Shahidi. So, for example, while you can heart (or like) someone else’s photo, there is no way to leave a comment, nasty or otherwise. The app operates only the device’s front-facing camera, and there’s no way to upload images, limiting people’s ability to secretly share pictures of others or to create fake profiles. Shots doesn’t keep track of follower counts, Shahidi adds, so its mostly-teen members don’t end up being sucked into a virtual popularity contest.
Members can add captions to their own photos and use hashtags, but there’s no way to search for hashtags, which Shahidi says cuts down remarkably on the tendency to post nude shots (something Vine learned the hard way). People who do post explicit images or engage in noxious behavior are not only booted from the network, but their device IDs are recorded so they can’t reinstall the app and sign up under a different name, Shahidi says. He says he’s only had to do that twice so far.
How Shots works
As you might suspect, using this iOS-only app doesn’t require a degree in astrophysics. You simply tap the smiley face on your screen to active your device’s camera. Then tap again to take a picture; then add a caption and any hashtags. Location (city and state) is added by default, though that can be turned off. Once you’ve created your photo on Shots, you’re prompted to share it on Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr. It will also automatically appear on the Shots.me site under your name.
Shots members find other Shots members they know by connecting the app to their Twitter or Instagram accounts, or they just follow random strangers (famous or otherwise) suggested by Shots. Likewise, random strangers and their dogs can also follow back. Members can send messages to other Shots members, but only if they both follow each other. And if anyone gets obnoxious, she can be blocked with two taps of your finger.