Color: The Next Level of Social Networking

Privacy? What’s that? If you thought Facebook and Twitter were effective in stripping away net anonymity, you will be amazed at what Color can do. The new photo sharing app, developed for both iPhone and Android platforms, brings the concept of the “elastic community” to the fore. What is interesting about the app is that it is generating a tremendous amount of buzz upon its release, not for its features, but for its very transparent lack of privacy standards.

Should this bother you? If it does, you shouldn’t download the app at Color.com, which domain, incidentally, it cost $350,000 to purchase. The app shares your photos with anyone within 150 feet of you automatically, with no permission asked. The download of the app is its own implied permission. You can also see the photos of other Color users within range.

Here’s where Color goes above and beyond: say you are at the park within range of another Color user. You don’t know this person; he doesn’t know you. You see his pictures, though, of the park, and he sees yours. Even when you move out of range, you are connected to this person and continue to see his photos. Yes. You can look at this virtual stranger’s past, present, and future photos. And he can see yours. And what’s more: you can see his contacts’ photos, and he can see your contacts’ photos. Bill Nguyen, one of the app’s developers, sees no problem with this. In fact, a reporter from Forbes was able to access Nguyen’s photos, including those of his wife and children. “I know. Isn’t it cool?” was his reply.

With Color, you can’t mark any of your photos as private; so if you take them, you have to assume that they’ll be seen. There is no way to know who is accessing your photos, but there is an option to block fellow users from looking at your photo stream, if you know they’re looking (which might be difficult).

You can share links to albums on Twitter, Facebook, SMS, or email. If you do not have Color but follow such a link, you won’t be able to participate in the “photo conversation” but you will be able to see photos. Quite an elastic community.

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