What is Musical.ly?

23 Feb 2017 Becca Cawthorne

Ellie Proffitt, an education officer at Childnet International looks at the popular app Musical.ly.

Musical.ly is an app that blends social networking and music together into a unique do-it-yourself video platform. Users (known as ‘Musers’ on the site) can create, save and share videos of up to 15 seconds. Videos typically show lip-syncing, dance routines and comedy parodies. Much like other social networking sites, users can like and comment on other videos, and even remix them and share them on again.

Features of Musical.ly

The app has a very large library of music clips that users can choose to lip-sync to. These range from popular songs, to quotes from TV shows, to clips from other Musers’ videos. Once a song or clip is selected, users can film a video for it. Musical.ly has lots of effects and filters, such as fast motion, slow motion, time lapse, reverse and other “time machine” effects.

Other features include a direct messaging feature embedded in the app called direct.ly, the option to link to a live-streaming app called live.ly, a leader board that displays the most popular videos and a “Trending” tab that displays popular hashtags.

Whereas older apps such as Facebook and Twitter add a blue tick to verified user accounts, Musical.ly works slightly differently. Instead of blue ticks, the administrators confirm authentic accounts by assigning a crown emoji to famous profiles, or profiles that have a strong presence on the app. There are many Musers who have built up a following purely on Musical.ly.

Privacy settings on Musical.ly

Like most other social networking sites, users have the option to have either a public or private profile. Profiles are set to public by default. To access privacy settings and switch to a private account, do the following:

  • From a user’s profile page, click the cog symbol in the top right corner
  • Click ‘settings’
  • Scroll to ‘Privacy’
  • Turn on the ‘private account’ switch

Two other features can be accessed in the ‘Privacy’ tab – ‘only friends can direct.ly message me’ and ‘hide location info’. When turned on, these options will only let accepted friends privately message the user, and will hide the user’s location from other users. 

Reporting and blocking

Reporting and blocking features are accessed through the following routes:

To report another user, click on ‘…’ in the top right hand corner of their profile. Then click ‘report abuse’. Various options are given to describe the nature of the reported behaviour.
To report a video, click on ‘…’ on the right hand side of the video, then select ‘report abuse.’
To block another user, click on ‘…’ in the top right hand corner of their profile, then select ‘block this user’.

Please note that Musical.ly’s terms and conditions state that under-13s are restricted from using their service.

New apps and sites appear daily online. It would be unrealistic to ask parents and carers to understand all of them. The sites and services your child likes to use may change regularly but the messages to keep themselves safe remain the same – be kind online, think before you post and only accept friend requests form people you know and trust.

For more app reviews from both parents and children, visit commonsensemedia.org. See the Childnet Young people and social networking guide for further information.

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