With the availability, affordability and speed of wireless networks continuing to improve, a number of mobile-focused social networks have emerged in recent years. One such example is Vine, a video-specific social media platform that was acquired by Twitter even before its formal launch in January 2013.
What Is Vine?
Rather than enabling users to post text-based status updates or publish carefully crafted photos, Vine is designed for users to record and post short video clips that are then played on loop to their friends and followers.
Vine videos can be up to six seconds in duration and users can only share video recorded using the in-app camera. Since the camera only records while the user is pressing on the screen, creative uses have emerged, including stop motion effects and creative editing. Vine has evolved to be a popular platform for short-form comedy in particular.
While Vine was originally only available as an iPhone app, apps for Google Android and Windows Phone devices have now been released. The app is a free download through each platform's respective app store. There is also a Microsoft Xbox One app that allows users to watch the looping videos through their game console.
Vine Features and Appeal
As of April 2016, Vine boasts 200 million monthly active users, with 1.5 billion video loops played daily, 12 million videos uploaded each day, and over 8,000 videos shared every minute. Vine is particularly popular among millennials, who make up 71% of the app's user base.
The short-form nature of Vine's six-second videos can encourage greater creativity among its users, as they are forced to work within those confines. The ease of stop motion animation, since the in-app camera only records while the screen is being pressed, is also useful in this regard.
Key Vine features include:
- Follow friends, brands and Internet celebrities, just as you would on Twitter
- Like and comment on Vine videos posted by other users
- Unlike the live-streaming nature of Periscope, Vine allows for more careful crafting of what is published before it is shown to the world.
- Like Instagram and YouTube videos, Vine videos can also be embedded on websites.
- New and trending content can be found through the Explore function. Several channels - like Comedy, Music, Anime, Dance and Animals - offer curated content within specific themes.
In part, Vine may have provided some inspiration for the addition of looping video to Instagram, though the latter allows for videos of longer duration.
Social Media Integration
Vine integrates with other social media sites in several ways. For example:
- Vine users are able to connect their accounts to their Twitter profiles, making it easy to sign in through the web-based interface without having to enter their email address and password.
- Inside the app, individual Vine videos can be easily shared with other social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
- There is also a feature to 'revine' a video, which allows you to share another user's video through your Vine account.
Privacy and Safety Issues
Many of the privacy and safety concerns surrounding Vine are similar to those of Snapchat, another visually-focused mobile social networking app. This is particularly pressing because of the app's popularity among teenagers and other younger users.
Inappropriate Content and Victimization
Inappropriate content can be posted by Vine's users and subsequently watched by children and young people who may not be prepared for such content. While pornography was posted to Vine in its early days, the current rules ban it, along with explicit graphic content, sensitive media, and unlawful use. This does not mean that Vine is devoid of sexually suggestive content, however. This is why Vine is rated as 17+ in the iTunes App Store.
There is a possibility of abuse, stalking, and other forms of victimization, especially due to some of the suggestive content being posted on Vine. As with any social networking platform, it is important to exercise caution when using the site.
Vine privacy settings, which can be accessed by tapping on Profile and then Settings from within the app, do allow you to choose a 'private' setting for your content. This means that only people you approve will be able to follow and view your Vine videos. Private videos cannot be revined. However, private Vines can still be shared externally to sites like Facebook and Twitter, so they are never completely private.
Similarly, it is possible to block someone from following your public Vine account. Navigate to the user's profile, tap on the menu button (three dots) and choose "Block this person." The person will not be able to follow you or view your profile, but the individual will still be able to view and comment on videos that appear in searches, popular results, and hashtags.
Connecting People Six Seconds at a Time
Vine is a powerful social network that is particularly popular among millennials. The six-second videos can be funny and entertaining, with creative uses of the medium for comedy, music, and other forms of artistic expression. It can be a great platform to connect with brands and other people when used mindfully.