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The first day of school can be nerve-wracking. The stress can double when you get to college-- away from home, new surroundings, larger classes, trying to get the lay of the land, and find new friends.

The SpotSelfie app (Android, iOS) claims to offer more than traditional social media, like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.

"Students want live, in-person interaction with new friends and classmates," the developers said in a press release.

The SpotSelfie app tailors to fit specific campuses and student bodies with several features to enhance in-person social interactions.

SEE: Social networking app 'Islands' is pulling students away from Facebook with new college directory

Similar to Snapchat, the app lets students take SpotSelfies and create stories with a touch of AR. With GPS enabled, the photo will "drop and float" on the spot. Students can share stories with friends or everyone on campus, depending on their settings. Sharing with the whole campus lets more students get to know each other throughout the day.

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(Credit: Screenshot by Download.com)

The My Color Code feature is a quick questionnaire that helps the app learn about the student's personality, physical traits, and preferred activities. Students can search for students with similar "codes."

SpotSelfie also offers a Billboard feature, where students' profile pictures "float" over their heads through AR when they are viewed through the camera in the app. To learn more about someone you see on campus, simply tap their hovering profile picture.

Users can also add Freak Flags to their photos to identify something unique or eccentric about themselves. Flags are searchable on almost any subject. The Flags, like the Billboard feature, follow students 24/7.

"There is NO limit on the number of Spotselfies and Freak Flags you can have. The more... the better!" The app advertises in the App Store and Google Play.

Once students start connecting and making friends, they can form public or private groups like Facebook. They can manage who joins through invitations, post content, and personalize the groups in the app.

SpotSelfie offers private messaging without giving out a phone number. Students can also manage their friends list.

SpotSelfie claims its Buzz Feed feature will eliminate the fear of missing out on campus activities. The app includes a list of posts--similar to other activity feeds or message boards--for students to keep up with recent happenings.

For students who attend different schools, SpotSelfie has the Campus Surf feature. With it, students can find people on other campuses and chat.

SpotSelfie claims exclusive access, privacy, and security for its users. In the press release, the developers said only students on campus can participate in the app. Parents, non-college family, and the general public are not permitted.

Developers said the app lets students meet organically, but they can make friends faster and more effectively thanks to the additional information it provides. The app said it gives a more accurate picture of who a person is with digital interactions before meeting in person, and in-depth profiles to match interests better.

Ray Shingler, SpotSelfie's director of development said the app is important because other social media has neglected the college demographic.

"We did not [neglect them]. College students need customized social interaction, and they want their digital media. We've found a way to give them both, with no ads and no unnecessary data sharing," Shingler said in the press release.

SpotSelfie said students can safely "digitally plaster their lives to the real world" with the app.

Most people on social media know that the platforms can be treacherous the more public it is. Some of SpotSelfie's features could be opening the door to sexual harassment, stalking, and bullying.

SpotSelfie says students can keep their profiles private or only for friends, but if the app is to help students make friends, it seems to defeat the purpose.

Social media can be a place where people feel empowered to be unkind or threatening, simply because they're hiding behind a keyboard. If a student creates a SpotSelfie account, enters in mass amounts of personal info, and leaves it public-- what's to stop someone from taking advantage of that?

The app seems like it has students' best interests at heart, but might need to look at the bigger picture. Just because the app is closed to only those on campus doesn't make it foolproof.

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(Credit: Screenshot by Download.com)


Takeaways

  1. The new SpotSelfie app lets college students find, meet, and make new friends within the confines of a university with the app's social media aspects and AR.
  2. SpotSelfie claims to outdo the other social media platforms, but the app's desire to help students "digitally plaster their lives to the real world" could leave users vulnerable to stalking, bullying, and harassment.

Also see

Shelby is an Associate Writer for CNET's Download.com. She served as Editor in Chief for the Louisville Cardinal newspaper at the University of Louisville. She interned as Creative Non-Fiction Editor for Miracle Monocle literary magazine. Her work appears in Glass Mountain Magazine, Bookends Review, Soundings East, and on Louisville.com. Her cat, Puck, is the best cat ever.