Lifestage: the social network your parents aren't on. Yet.

The thing teens need most is another social media app. Facebook's got it covered.

Ian Sherr Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. At CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
2 min read
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Apps like this remind me that I'm old.


In your face, Snapchat!

Kids still say that sort of thing, right?

How about: The '00s called and they want their app back!

Well, it's late on a Friday, and Facebook has quietly released a new app, called Lifestage. And while its name might suggest the target market is caterpillars, this is actually for teens -- aka not me.

Like other apps not built for me, it's somewhat confusing. But the gist of it is that you (the younger version of you, who was able to eat french fries dipped in milkshakes any time you damn well pleased) create a profile using your phone number (remember those?) and your name. Then Lifestage has you take photos or videos of various things, with categories such as what you "like" and "dislike," "how I dance" and "my best friends."

It also gets into some pretty deep and depressing stuff. One of the prompts asks you to take a photo depicting when you have no money. Another asks about when you're "in trouble."

The way you take a photo is by tapping on the screen, which I'm sure the kids all do these days but which took me five whole minutes to figure out. (Thanks, by the way, to Facebook for not having a help page for us olds.)

"Lifestage makes it easy and fun to share a visual profile of who you are with your school network," Facebook said in the app description. The company also warns that everything posted to Lifestage is always public, because privacy is for chumps.

The app is free and available for iPhones. A spokeswoman said "TBD" on when it'll be offered for Android phones.

So why is Facebook doing all this? Well, it's no secret that Snapchat is a hit, and since the company behind that app rebuffed Facebook's offer of a buyout, the app has been well and truly becoming an alternative to the world's largest social network. But there's more to it than that.

Snapchat's popularity is also pushing Facebook to branch out beyond its one size fits all, 1.7 billion users design. Facebook's no-longer-a-teen CFO, David Wehner, said on a July conference call that while youngins use Facebook, it's not the way you and I do. They're using other Facebook apps, like Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.

Generally people aren't sharing long blog posts about their lives anymore either. They're sharing quick thoughts, videos and photos. "How they've used our service has evolved over the years," he said, speaking specifically about people half his boss' age.

So, will Lifestage be the next big thing since Frank Ocean (or whatever other celebrity I haven't heard of but who's somehow on the cover of magazines)?

We'll see.