App Review – Circle
Threat Level – Moderate

Circle is a social networking app designed by Hawthorne Labs that advertises as “The Future of Social Media”. They also advertise their app as the most Popular local network. Circle has many of the familiar social media style interfaces. When you download circle it will give you the opportunity to sign in with your Facebook information, or create your own. After you choose which way you want to log in, your circle begins. Immediately your profile is setup with the usual information. Profile picture of you, employment, school and other general interest sections.

Circle is advertised to be a social network for the people around you. So you ask, what does that mean? Let me explain. The app asks permission to use your gps to find the area you live in. After it locks in your home city, and confirms the area you are currently at, the interface turns into a location specific home screen. It will show you full pictures of landscapes that have been tagged to your area (for example Knoxville TN my area, i had full pictures of the gay street bridge, and the worlds fair site). You will also see local weather, and free or paid local events that are going on around you. Similar to other profiles on social media, you are able to select a profile picture that will be displayed inside a small circle. You will be able to view other friends pictures in similar circles.

One thing I quickly noticed was when I downloaded this app, I did not allow it access to login via Facebook, but it still used my friends list to show me Facebook friends that are already using the circle app, or ways to invite them into circle. I also started seeing updates (similar to Facebook updates) of people i did not know. it showed the persons name, job and who they are mutual friends with through their Facebook account to make it appear they were all on the circle app when truthfully it was just pulling their info from Facebook. In my opinion, it seems Circle is trying to market off Facebook’s information right from the startup. Circles growth will come from people looking for a more local social networking site for people near you . I also noticed the app was searching for other circle users that were close by that I have never heard of. This seems a little dangerous considering we never want our children being introduced to people that are around them they don’t know without the parents full permission. Circle also has a private messaging feature inside the app to message your circle of friends regardless if friended or not.

Circle has been rated under the information section of the app as a 12 plus age bracket. It states that app contains infrequent mild profanity or crude humor, mild alcohol tobacco or drug use references and mild sexual content or nudity. I realize that those are generically written warning labels, but 12 years old? Seriously? I wouldn’t want my 12 year old introduced to any of those! Circle is a free app and available on all the mobile markets. Close moderation and paying attention to strangers your child may friend on this app is extremely important. This app encourages meeting others around them to form new friendships and circles. Explain to your children the importance of knowing who they accept to be friends with and never a stranger.

White app, blue, circle, blue circle, white with blue circle

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