Facebook already adopted its own form of email communication with Facebook Messages, and it now has its own kind of texting messaging too. Yesterday the social networking site announced its acquisition of group messaging service Beluga – the “solution to help groups of friends stay in touch on the move.” In addition to group text messaging similar to group email chains or Facebook message threads, Beluga lets users contact multiple people with the same message via phone – and those people can then respond to everyone else. The main component of Beluga is that users create “pods” that include specific people to whom a user wants to send certain messages.
Beluga is an efficient and easy way to make plans with multiple friends, update those plans with alerts and notifications and even share photos as an event or meeting is happening. However, parents need to be wary of how their kids use this application as Beluga also features a “bird’s eye view” that updates members of the group with a user’s exact location. While this service promises privacy and safety – and user-created “pods” only available to specific people – any kind of “checking in” or personal mapping creates a risk of oversharing that parents don’t want for their kids.
Another risk that kids could be exposed to is cyberbullying because users can send messages out to multiple people – and everyone can see who else is receiving the same message. Or a text could be accidentally sent to the wrong group of people which could serious affects someone’s online reputation, as well as the relationships with certain people. Like any messaging service or social networking activity, Beluga has to be used with an awareness of the dangers of oversharing online, so it’s up to parents to make sure their kids understand these risks.
What do you think are the positives and negatives of Beluga? What do you think of yet another feature now on Facebook?