A Safe Alternative to Facebook

by Becky Blanton on April 1, 2011

It was just a matter of time before scammers, serial killers and pedophiles discovered the soft underbelly of the internet. Like con men throughout history they recognized that people are at their most vulnerable when they don’t understand what they’re doing or what the risks of something are. Many adults and kids use the internet for entertainment and socializing and don’t always understand the risks and how easily their privacy is invaded or compromised.

If you don’t know enough to set your privacy settings on Facebook, or don’t know that Facebook can and does change them at will as they “improve” the site, you can end up broadcasting very private and personal information to the world.

If you aren’t very tech-savvy, meaning you are just now feeling confident about sending and receiving email, or attaching or sizing a photo, then welcome to the world of 80% of those of us on the net!

That’s the bad news. The good news is that more and more developers are creating what are called “social media management sites.” That’s the long version of “private social networking sites.” These sites allow true friends – not just people you randomly meet on the internet – to interact and share files, photos and information in a private “room” online. Unlike chat rooms, these sites are more controlled and not visible to anyone who hasn’t been sent the link and invited and admitted to the room by the creator of the room.

Sites like YapTime, Posterous, Fridge, and other social media management sites are rolling out new features and new possibilities every day. They offer the privacy that Facebook doesn’t (unless you’re a genius at figuring out Facebook groups), and are easy enough for a child, or a non-tech savvy adult of any age to operate. I belong to all the top sites, and even pay for professional sites like Basecamp because I like having a place to store files, photos and videos my clients can access without having to master a lot of complex dashboards.

The most aggravating thing for me has been the time it takes to set up sites on Google, Ning or Weebly (usually days or hours). I wasn’t crazy about the fact you had to learn something about websites or understand how they work before you can create your own site. That’s why I love YapTime the most. It’s easy enough a kid or a grandparent with no real computer experience can set it up in 30 seconds and start adding files, sharing photos and inviting family members to join them. I like YapTime primarily because I use it the most with clients and friends (you can set up as many rooms as you want and each one is separate and private). I was so impressed with it I opted to work a few hours a month with the founder while it’s in beta  to help develop it into a site that’s even more parent, kid and internet safe. Robert Kapela, the founder of YapTime created the site because, as he says, “Teens don’t email. Grandparents don’t text.” So, YapTime is a great way for both generations to share photos and news.

Advantages:

Yaptime is a free site – most of these sites are. They’re supported by ads, or you have the option of being ad free for a small price.

They’re fast and easy to set-up. Most require only an email and a password.

They’re private. You control who has access to the content because no one even knows the room exists unless you personally email them the link to join and approve their joining (one click simple!). You don’t get requests to “be pseudo friends” with someone who knows someone who knows someone you met in a chat room!

On YapTime you can upload photos (and they’re working on a photo album feature as well), word files, videos and just comment, tweet or chat like you do on Facebook. No complex controls – all very intuitive.

These private sites are a great way to help deter or even stop online bullying. If your kids have been bullied in the past – it won’t happen on YapTime. Parents control the invites and if your child is too shy, afraid or unable to say “No,” to friends or pseudo-friends they can put the blame on the parent for the control of the room. If your child wants to have a place they can go to talk to their friends without worrying about anyone else from school or the neighborhood seeing their posts – this is the place.

If you wanted to post videos and photos of your kids to your real friends and family and not to the whole internet (accidentally or intentionally) – private sites beat Facebook. When you want to delete your photos and files it’s easy to do too.

YapTime also has a calendar where anyone in your invited room may add events. There’s even a link to Google maps so you can print off directions to the event.

I hope you’ll join us there while it’s in beta so we can benefit from your input. Visit YapTime Now!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Carlson Yamamoto May 28, 2011 at 10:22 am

OnlyMeWorld.com is the adult version of Facebook, pro version of Twitter, people friendly version of Linkedln, all combined into one. Site is live as of May 1, 2011 and will be advertising globally in the Summer of 2011.

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