Michael Callahan at SMSS 2018

After School Featured in San Francisco Chronicle’s “Bay Area Startups Worth Watching”

January 29, 2018

After School trending in the App Store caught the attention of the San Francisco Chronicle, who recently featured us in a story highlighting three startups to watch, including Enzyme and VRChat.

A week after the Social Media Safety in Schools Conference, an event hosted by After School to bring people together to collaborate around the topic of teen suicide prevention and mental health, The Chronicle came to our offices in San Francisco to discuss how we’ve gotten to where we are today.

After School CEO Michael Callahan, Photo: Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle

Photo: Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle

Here’s an excerpt from the write-up by The Chronicle’s Trisha Thadani:

“The San Francisco company, which has $17.4 million in funding and 17 employees, is trending this week because it held its second annual Social Media Safety in Schools Conference in the city this month.

Vice President Jeff Collins said the company teamed up with Crisis Text Line, a nonprofit that provides 24/7 counselors via text message, in 2016. So if someone writes that they are facing a personal issue — like being depressed or pregnant — a message will pop up offering a connection with a crisis counselor.

The app also uses language algorithms to detect threatening or harmful messages. If necessary, Collins said, the company will contact the police, though that’s only if the algorithms or employees catch the post. The app “errs on the side of taking things down,” he said.

One challenge is that the lingo teenagers use is constantly changing. “Phrases and acronyms take on more meaning. For example ‘KMS’ — which stands for ‘kill myself’ — is used as a sarcastic thing,” Collins said.”

As the story mentions, we work with Crisis Text Line to offer teens live, anonymous, and free help from trained Crisis Counselors. Before working with CTL in 2016, we worked with a separate organization to provide teens in need with help. Combined, over 100,000 teens have chatted with trained counselors. This is just one of the many ways we have worked hard to not only give teens a safe and positive place to connect and share with their classmates, but to help them in any way possible.

Read the full San Francisco Chronicle article, “Anonymous app for teens tries to keep bullying at bay,” here.

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