UMention photo app captures anonymous, risque side of UCF
With apps such as Snapchat, Instagram and YikYak sweeping the social spheres, another called UMention is hoping to join the list of addictive applications.
However, as UMention steps on the social scene it brings with it a whole new level of privacy.
Launched in late September, UMention allows users to capture and share photos on a network of users at their university or college.
Users can sign up without an email or birthdate, choose a username and post photos.
After installing, the app asks the user to "securely" share his or her location, so that photos can be shared with users on the same campus.
"We take people's privacy quite seriously," UMention CEO Ade Labinjo said. "Given that we are an anonymous app, we are hesitant to provide any sort of information."
Labinjo launched the app's predecessor website, UMentioned, while he was an economics major at Queens University. He said he wanted to give people a way to connect without social barriers that could be attached to identity, like fear of judgment or embarrassment.
"Our goal is to help people remove the friction in sharing that we see is prevalent on a number of social sites," Labinjo said.
While the app allows users to post photos with or without a created username, some users still post photos of themselves onto the app.
But posting doesn't come without a warning from UCF officials. UCF Police Department Officer Peter Stephens cautioned against posting questionable photos, such as drinking or smoking photos, on any social media platform, as such photos may result in student conduct concerns, he said.
"Any time you're using the Internet, you're giving up some level of privacy," Stephens said.
A scroll through the app's University of Central Florida page shows a diverse range of photos: from bathroom selfies to party photos to last night's dinner, A user can tag their own photo as "mature" for ages 18 and up and posts deemed inappropriate can be reported by other users.
Bullying, harassment, racism and anything the community wouldn't like are things we don't tolerate, Labinjo said.
Ethan Wall, UCF alumnus and social media law attorney, said that users must beware of the photos and statements they post on apps such as UMention or Snapchat.
"That doesn't mean the app itself is bad or can't be used for fun, interesting purposes," Wall said. "The app is a tool, just like a shovel or a gun … these tools have lawful purposes."
The troubles arises when these apps are used irresponsibly.
Wall, who has written 30 articles on social media legal issues, said that people who are not careful may run the risk of exposing themselves to invasion of privacy torts, such as in situations where an app user snaps a photo of someone at a closed, private party. In cases like these, the subject of the photo would not expect publicity and may take legal action against the poster.
App companies such as UMention may not store information about users, but forensic police have methods of finding information related to the questionable content on the user's phone, Wall added. If law enforcement becomes involved, a subpoena would legally require the company to turn over any information related to identification of the poster.
"Think before you post," Wall said. "Ask yourself if this passes 'The Mom Test.' Would I be embarrassed if my mom found out what I was posting? If the answer is yes, then you probably shouldn't post it. Because what you post on social media and apps can be used against you."
Even kept anonymous, students' locations can easily be given away with the background of a photo.
Nevertheless, Labinjo encouraged UCF students to give UMention a try.
"We really wanna see UMention thrive at UCF," he said. "So we really encourage UCF students to give UMention a chance … to get things off your chest that you really wanna share with your classmates and your friends."