It begins with what seems like the utmost best intentions. A post on a social media site names an app available for both Android and Apple to help domestic violence victims. If Snopes.com has anything to say about it, it doesn't - according to their June 2015 write-up.
At first I wanted to write about a new app available. A new app that law enforcement officers should be aware of to discretely inform their community. Especially if it could help someone. But then a quick search changed that yet it's still worth sharing. I'd like to make law enforcement aware of this app's claims have been tested and found not entirely accurate.
First, the post
It reads with immediacy right away in all caps (which I'll spare you) with "I don't care what your doing stop and read this".
Oh, ok. Must be important.
"Ok Dr. Phil's wife, Robin, (yes groan, but listen up) has this new app out (iPhone and Android) that's for people in abusive relationships. It's called Aspire News and it's disguised as a regular new app, but when you go to the "Help" section of the app, it leads you to domestic violence resources and also has a "Go Button" that what you press it, if you're in a compromising situation, alerts local authorities as well as local shelters and starts recording everything that is going on.
Now if you're looking up resources on the app and your abuser is near, simply press the X button and it brings you to a random news page. Same goes for the actual foundation site."
The post adds that it's free and to spread the word.
Ok, spread that word. Reportedly, the app does covertly provide a way to research local resources, but - according to Snopes report - "it is not primarily set up to efficiently and surreptitiously contact 911 dispatchers or summon other emergency services."
So as far as the claims that it turns someone's phone into an automatic 911 machine ... well, the Snopes article finds a 911 dispatcher in Virginia whom tested the proposed help function stating: "This is false."
Snopes continues that instead of using the app, users should utilize other more effective means in research and connecting with emergency services. Years ago NextGen911 came blurting out of the conversation at nearly every tech-based law enforcement trade show. The concept then claimed the ability for dispatch to receive text messages, pictures, photos, and even video.
Does your local dispatch center have that capability today? It's now 2016 and a good number around the country, I'd imagine, might at least be able to take text messages. It takes a significant system and software upgrade, but it's out there. The capability is out there.
Let your community know there are far better ways to connect with emergency help than relying on a app that just might not do what they need.
Be aware of any app claiming to have more capability than what it is actually capable of.
And be safe.