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Ohio State students make social media site emphasizing privacy

When inappropriate pictures of a Friday night are posted on Facebook and seen by potential employers, it can become a problem. A couple Ohio State students decided to find a way to avoid this kind of situation.
Two OSU students created a new social media website, called Capstory, which aims to create a safe place on the Internet where friends can share their pictures in complete privacy.
The site was created by Suprasanna Mishra, a third-year in neuroscience, and Dustin Studer, a third-year in biomedical engineering, who were roommates their freshmen year.
They came up with the idea for Capstory after encountering problems with other social media sites.
“We were looking for a place where groups of friends could privately share their content,” Studer said. “And we couldn’t find anything that worked that way. So we decided we would set out to build it.”
Capstory, which was launched to the public Oct. 1, works a little differently than most social media websites.
Users can sign up for a free account and from there create photo albums, called “capsules.” These capsules are private until a user personally invites friends to look at pictures.
Both Studer and Mishra wanted a place to share photos that would not be appropriate for public view and could be damaging to people’s professional image.
“Crazy nights at a party that you don’t necessarily want to share on Facebook,” Studer said. “You could be misjudged, you could potentially lose out on an interview, an internship or something like that.”
Users on Capstory can also show photos to friends who are not signed up for an account.
Capstory works off a texting platform and this gives people the ability to text in pictures and videos from their cell phones, even if they do not have an accounts.
Even though Capstory allows for more privacy than some other sites, it can still connected with Facebook.
After a “capsule” is made, the pictures the user deems appropriate for more public use can be sent to Facebook directly from Capstory.
“We don’t want people to move away from Facebook, there’s a need for Facebook, it’s always going to be there,” Mishra said. “So we work well with Facebook.”
Jay Clouse, a third-year in marketing and former Lantern reporter, first began using Capstory as a freshman when he lived in the same dorm as Mishra and Studer.
“With everything in the news with Facebook and its privacy problems and security leaks, it’s a really cool idea to have a place you can share your photos with your friends, not have to worry about who sees them,” Clouse said. “You can kind of keep those safe memories and those moments, but you keep them a lot more private.”
In 2010 a Facebook privacy leak was reported by several media outlets, that said some applications were sharing information concerning the identity of its users with third parties.
Capstory is designed to avoid any invasions of privacy.
Danielle D’Amato, a fourth-year in criminology, said she usually chooses not to post any pictures online that could be inappropriate, and for that reason, she said she most likely would not use a website like Capstory.
However, she does see the appeal for others.
“You can always share those photos with friends, like other ways, through email,” D’amato said. “This is just probably so much easier to just put up there (online).”
The students plan to expand their website to earn money by marketing it to businesses, but said Capstory will always be free for students. Mishra and Studer also want to expand the website through several college campuses in Ohio and eventually nationwide.
“There is a problem out there with privacy, and it’s only growing more and more,” Mishra said. “Because once you put something on Facebook, it’s basically there forever.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 26, 2013

An earlier version of this story said Suprasanna Mishra and Dustin Studer are former OSU students when, in fact, they are current students.


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