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Vine Smartphone App Being Abused For Bullying In Video Form

EAST WILLISTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The popular smartphone app Vine is being misused by some teenagers to bully, and educators said they are being proactive about putting an end to it.

As CBS 2's Carolyn Gusoff reported Wednesday, you may never have heard of Vine, but chances are a teenager you know watched a Vine today.

The app allows users to record and edit six-second looping videos, which they can share among followers – usually linked up with their Twitter accounts.

There are silly and ingenious Vines, but now, some hurtful ones have appeared.

"It allows technology to be used in a very mean, negative way," said Greg Wasserman, a guidance counselor at the East Williston School District.

Officials at the district, among others, are counseling kids on the dangers of Vine. They said the latest social media craze has been used to bully.

"Many kids are being videotaped without their knowledge that they're being videotaped, or kids are mocking or mimicking other kids, and then they're posting them to Facebook or Twitter for the entire community to see," said Mary Harrison, the school district's director of guidance.

"Unfortunately, everyone is fair game -- students, even teachers or administrators," Wasserman said.

Guidance counselors have been meeting in small groups with students, warning them about the danger of videotaping people without their knowledge, and an email alert was sent out to parents.

"You can be driving next to your son or daughter in the car and they can be bullied, or worse yet, being a victim of bullying," a counselor warned the parents.

Kids are being warned about the indelible footprint they leave once a video goes viral. Teens who spoke to CBS 2 said they have seen the looping videos misused.

"They talk about other people, and they think they're funny, and it's a way of bullying people," one student said.

"I'm sure people are making fun of others -- probably mimicking the way they look or act," another said.

Educators remind parents they can restrict which apps kids can put on their phones.

And some experts recommend that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Become a regular follower of your kids' postings to monitor what they are sharing with the world.

Vine now recommends the app for users over the age of 17 – a change that was made after some users uploaded pornographic clips.

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