Twitter's Vine video service has released a cute new app for kids, but let's get real: This is a gateway drug.
These Vine Kid videos are quite fun. Scanning through I found creative animations and artwork, and tons of pets engaging in humorous behavior. Tons. There was a cat playing with an iPad and then doing a back-flip. In another, a cat descended from the ceiling on a string to grab a hamburger from the ground, like Tom Cruise in the film Mission: Impossible. In another, an army of cute Pokemon characters gathered on a pier.
Besides drawing in kids with videos that their parents don't have to fret about, Twitter might also see the app as a way to expand its own army of video creators by singling out potential social media stars.
There's no way to record video within the app -- it's only for watching videos curated by Vine's team. But the videos are fun, even for an adult. And, if the app catches on among kids, it could usher in a wave of new users for the full-fledged regular Vine app, and for Twitter more broadly, which is struggling to grow its user base. Many Vine users cross-post their videos to Twitter, but it's not a requirement.
Twitter might have to be careful here. Vine Kids is marketed for children age 5 and up, but the main Vine service, and Twitter too, is directed to people 13 and older. Plus, the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act or COPPA has established rules over how online service providers must protect children's privacy and safety online, such as by providing notice to parents about how software collects personal information from people under age 13.
Last year, Yelp and app maker TinyCo were fined by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for improperly collecting children's information.
Vine, however, says its new Kids app does not collect any personal information, aside from when a user requests customer support or otherwise communicates with the company. There is no signup process for the app. Plans for other platforms like Android were not announced.