(WHNT) – A new livestream broadcast app called ‘Periscope’ has quickly landed a spot on the U.S. iPhone Top 30 chart. Downloads and usership are increasing by leaps and bounds daily.
The free app, owned by Twitter, allows users to begin a live broadcast of whatever they choose. Users all over the world could jump from a stream of someone bathing their guinea pig in Minnesota, to a protest in Egypt.
For now, the app is just available for iOS. An Android version is in development.
Periscope’s live feeds can be shot from iPhones and iPads and watched through smartphones, desktops or laptops either through the app or on Twitter’s site. You can watch back recent broadcasts or browse live streams.
In order to shoot video through the app, you need a Twitter account. Once you’ve downloaded Periscope from the app store, you’re given the option to subscribe to the Periscope broadcasts of people you follow on Twitter. You’ll be notified every time one of them starts streaming. Be careful, those notifications will build up quickly — you may elect to turn them off.
“The concept is, ‘Wow, this video is happening right now,’ you know, I could just reach out and touch these people who are talking to me right this second,” said a Periscope user.
Once you’re watching a broadcast you can type out a message to the owner and fellow watchers, or send a ‘heart’ to indicate your approval.
Periscope’s capabilities go far beyond a live stream of you folding laundry. Just imagine the possibilities of a livestream from a breaking news situation or even to give you a peek behind the scenes here at WHNT News 19.
Make sure you follow @whnt on Twitter and keep an eye out for future Periscope broadcast alerts.
As with any mobile social media app, bad things can happen if you abuse them. Beth Jackson with The National Children’s advocacy Center in Huntsville explains, allowing children to use the app is all about maturity.
“Even the best kid can have another kid dare them and say, oh do that, I just dare you to do it;’ and there’s always that little impulse of part of the brain that says that’s like, ‘yeah, why not?’.”
Broadcasting your scrambled egg dish to 30 strangers around the world is one thing; a teen girls’ slumber party, on the other hand, could attract someone with not-so-good intentions. It is simple to disable location tagging before starting a stream, but young users may not realize they could very easily give a child predator a map to their house.
“Privacy with social media is a myth. I don’t care what you lock down, somebody can almost always get to it, somebody’s almost always watching; and that’s what we tell kids,” Jackson says.
She advises parents need to have that conversation, too — no matter what app.
“Ask them, don’t just talk at them: say, ‘what do you think is a good way to use it and a bad way? What is a way that people could abuse it?'”
In a time when the number of likes on your selfie is easily tied to self-worth, Periscope is just like anything else, it has to be used responsibly.
“Predators are smart and they know the right things to say. And they actually, many times, choose kids that put a lot of information out there, that are looking for that validation because perhaps they’re not getting it.”