Apps often make life easier and provide entertainment in the palm of your hand. However, users can go beyond the initial proposal of the services and use the apps for unusual functions. Genealogy app consulted to avoid incest, text on Google Docs used as a secret chat room and selling porn clips via Snapchat are examples of occasions when apps were appropriated by users for purposes other than those proposed by the manufacturers. Below are five situations in which applications were used in unusual ways.
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Users innovate and use applications differently – Photo: Luciana Maline / TechTudo
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1. Genealogy app lets you avoid incest in Iceland
The ÍslendingaApp SES application was developed from a competition held by the owners of the Íslendingabók website (in Portuguese, «The Icelandic book»). The app’s initial goal was to discover the family link between citizens of Iceland from the medical genetics research database of the Íslendingabók project.
However, the application has an «extra» feature for users to check if they are closely related to each other. The tool was appropriated by the public to find out if any potential romantic partners were from the same family. When two users have a family connection, the app issues an «incest alarm» to discreetly warn both people about possible incest.
ÍslendingaApp SES allows users to touch each other to discover possible incest – Photo: Reproduction / SadEngineerStudios
2. Simsimi is used to send hate messages
The Simsimi app is a chat app in which the user interacts with an emoji-shaped character and controlled by artificial intelligence. The puppet can learn from the users’ responses and, thus, increase its database for chatting. Users began to report in 2018 that conversations could take on a tone of violence and sex appeal precisely because of the system’s learning from interactions with humans.
The app was even suspended in Brazil on suspicion of cyberbullying. In a statement, the company explained the decision: “It appears that some Brazilian users have been teaching malicious responses to SimSimi recently. Most of the content of these responses is that of threats, such as murder or kidnapping, of children or their families ”.
SimiSimi may contain dialogues not suitable for children – Photo: Reproduction / Anna Kellen Bull
3. Teens create secret chat rooms on Google Docs
Google Docs is a text editing application similar to Word, and is known for allowing online sharing of documents for collaborative writing. American students have abolished the old practice of passing tickets in the classroom to communicate with colleagues through productivity software.
Students access the Internet with notebooks provided by the school and share a text on Google Docs with friends to circumvent the censorship of the school network, which prevents access to sites such as social networks and messengers. Thus, it is possible to create a kind of «chat room» and exchange messages with flowing text. The resource is also used to deceive parents. Students open the program when they are going to do «homework» and talk with friends without their parents knowing.
Creating text on Google Docs to chat with @ xxEnas27xx during class is a disaster for sure.
4. Selling porn clips on Snapchat
Journalist Nick Bilton revealed in a column to the New York Times in 2015 that strippers and porn stars have appropriated Snapchat to provide nude photos and sexy shows in exchange for money. The Snapcash function facilitates the transaction with the possibility to transfer money via the social network chat instantly. Artists can sell personalized photos for as little as $ 1 ($ 4.64 in direct conversion) to $ 5 ($ 23.18) for select users – prices can reach double digits for personalized sex shows.
The men offered similar products at comparable prices. It is worth mentioning that Snapchat does not allow the publication of pornographic content on the platform. According to Bilton’s account, during the drafting of the agenda he followed 30 accounts that provided porn, and 28 of them were excluded by moderating the application within a week.
Snapcash allows you to send money to contacts via chat – Photo: Carolina Ochsendorf / TechTudo
5. Streaming pirated movies on Google Drive
Google Drive is known as a cloud file storage and sharing service for storing work or college materials. However, the application has already been used by users to stream pirated movies.
According to an analysis by the technology site Gadgets360, film studios made almost 5,000 requests to Google to remove content under the Copyright Act in August 2017. In comparison, the portal reported that, in the same period, there were about 100 requests from the same type to MEGA, and 12 to Dropbox.
Google Drive does not allow for pirated content – Photo: Carolina Ochsendorf / TechTudo
Google has already commented on piracy in the company’s products and has created several tools to minimize the practice, such as allowing to report copyright infringement through online forms. The platform also has a feature that compares the content sent with a database of copyrighted material.
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