Popular High School ‘Saturn’ App Makes Changes After Parents in Louisiana Raise Privacy, Safety Concerns
Local parents have raised concerns online about an app called Saturn that was created to help high school students navigate their busy schedules. After a Facebook post detailing all the specifics of the app went viral the app developers have decided to make some much-needed changes.
What is Saturn?
At first glance, Saturn actually looks like a great tool for students to stay organized and could potentially ease their anxieties about missing important information with a variety of helpful features.
It provides a live countdown that lets students know how much time they have left until their next class or how much time is left in their lunch break so they never have to worry about being late for class again. The app also acts as a live bulletin board where students can post local events going on in the community.
Why Were Local Parents Concerned About The App?
While these features are certainly innovative and helpful parents were concerned with how easy it was to create a fake account as a test by simply providing a phone number, a birthday, and graduation year which then granted them access to 350 students and their information.
This was all done without having to properly verify their name, birthday, address, email, or relation to the school he simply fibbed, and boom he was in.
I was just a 41-year-old-man using the Saturn app to gain access to 350 new friends
According to Chris Cullum, he created a "bogus schedule" by choosing from a list of teachers the app provided him with, and from there he could see who would be in these classes listed and who had joined his classes on the app. By simply changing the teachers he could then view who was in any class.
I was even able to see a girls athletic roaster
It's easy to see why local parents were concerned and how this could be abused and potentially fall into the hands of the wrong person.
Student's Profiles Are Public To Anyone Using Saturn
Students can create a profile that allows them to add links to their social media directly making it even easier to gain information about the students on the app without being properly verified.
I was able to click the student's links and watch som ereels right there in the Saturn app
Saturn App Developers Respond
The statement on their website says they are strengthening verification, one of the main concerns of local parents. New features will flag and block phone numbers that are suspicious preventing them from registering for Saturn.
If a user fails to verify using our improved protocol, their account will be restricted from participation in any school community and eventually removed
Saturn app developers continue by saying unverified users are "walled off from verified users and their information" which means as long as a user is unverified they will no longer be able to access class details and student profiles like Chris Cullum was previously able to do.
These improvements are part of an ongoing effort, and we will continue to release new features to make the platform even safer
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