FTC Investigation in 3, 2, 1…

Currently making the rounds on the internet are a series of videos of people’s oftentimes embarrassing attempts at karaoke. These viral gems are the product of Starmaker from Starmaker Studios who, as a result of there eagerness to create a platform, are likely to be the next privacy-failure poster boy.

If you browse the videos on the company’s Youtube channel you’ll see children singing, a woman breastfeeding while singing and other potentially compromising situations. I’m guessing here, but it looks like many of the participants in these videos are unaware that these videos are open for public viewing.

To learn more I decided to install the application and check it out for myself and after installing the application and going through the process of recording and uploading a video I can see why so many potentially embarrassing videos reside on that channel. The application is simple: Launch the application on your tablet or smartphone, pick the song you want to sing along with, click record and sing to the song as it plays. The application records the session. When the song has concluded and the session is recorded, the application allows you to review the recording and provides you the opportunity to upload it to the Starmakerapp Youtube channel.

While Starmaker Studios clearly describes what the user is agreeing to through short onscreen prompts, as we all know, few actually read those things and are more likely just to click “OK” to proceed. And that is precisely the problem with this application. See for yourself – I stepped through the process and recorded screenshots of the prompts during my process and uploaded them to this Imgur album. Notice if you just click “OK” through everything, as I did, you end up publishing your video on Youtube. While you can go back and change the status of your uploaded video to private at any time, you’ll also notice that the final screen doesn’t offer any hint how to accomplish that.

Starmaker needs to change those defaults or at least make it more apparent that the newly uploaded video is now public. I predict at some point in the near future regulators are going to be paying Starmaker Studios a little visit. This is yet another example of a company so focused on making things easy for the user, they over-looked (or didn’t care about) the potential for harm.

 
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