Kik Messenger’s smart new safety features

Kik Messenger, which claims to be the US’s 7th most popular social app and ranks even higher in some other countries, today released a new version that gives its 120 million+ users more control over who can text them.

Over the past year, its creators at Waterloo, Ontario-based Kik Interactive noticed the app has become “the leading cross-app messenger,” they claimed. That means that people who “meet” in game apps such as Clash of Clans or social ones like Tumblr or Twitter move over to Kik to text with each other. So, apparently to make sure users actually want those conversations with new acquaintances to happen, Kik now keeps the new people separate from existing Kik friends for you and blurs out both the profile photos and the messages of the new ones so you can decide whether or not you really want to see them or read their messages. You could always choose to ignore or block people (and still can, without their knowing it), but that’s kind of after the fact – after they get annoying. This way, you decide up front who you allow to join your Kik friends. The other smart safety feature that was and is still in place is that users have screennames; the app doesn’t share phone numbers or email addresses.

“No other messengers have taken these measures to make sure users have full control over who they connect with,” Kik Interactive says about its free app. It adds that the app, which works on Apple and Android mobile phones, adds more than 250,000 new users a day, worldwide.

Parents, this is very responsible user care on the part of a social app, but of course it doesn’t mean that a family conversation isn’t a good idea. Ask your kids if they use a messaging app – if so, which one and why they like it. Honest curiosity really helps. If you like Kik’s new and old safety features, tell them what you like about them and see if they can tell you what safety and privacy features their favorite apps have. If you have concerns, share them – it really helps to be informed when sharing concerns. A great way to have these conversations is while they’re showing you how the app works. These little applications are pretty simple, so that won’t take long, but it’s a nice, mutually respectful way for talking points to emerge.

Related links

  • Which messenger app a person (of any age) uses depends on the app’s features, the user, what s/he uses the app for and what his or her the app for. For more on this, see “What’s the deal with all these Messenger apps?” at LifeHacker.com.
  • “Yahoo acquires self-destructing messaging app Blink” only to shut it down, TechCrunch suggests, because Yahoo supposedly just wanted to acquire the talent behind the app.
  • To do a little feature comparing and learn about the app(s) your kids use, see Techradar.com’s 7 best messaging apps for iPhone and 8 best messaging apps for Android [Caveat: You can tell these were published back in February – the user numbers are out of date.]
  • “Top 5 video messaging apps” at Computer Business Review and Zacks.com on Facebook’s rumored move into the space with an app to rival Snapshot called “Slingshot”
  • Meanwhile, Google’s adding another whole “Layer” – a service that Forbes reports adds another “layer” or option to SMS texting vs. texting apps. It’s “white-label software that developers can use to put messages and free-calling services into their apps,” rather than making users jump out of game or other app to text someone.
  • Then there’s Snapchat, which – despite getting sanctioned by the FTC – is “now the top third-part messaging app in North America,” TechCrunch reports, beating Facebook’s Whatsapp.
  • “Risk implications of kids going mobile: Research”
  • “The meta-trend behind the teen (& everybody) mobile trend” posted in NetFamilyNews about a year ago

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