Last Updated on 12th March 2021

dispo logo

At INEQE Safeguarding Group, our online safety experts constantly monitor the development of new appsplatforms and the emerging trends and safeguarding risks they present. We know that standing still can mean falling behind 

In recent weeks, our team have been alerted to new image-based app called Dispo. This app is currently in the testing phase, but several large-scale media outlets have already commented on the app’s appealing features and bright future.  

In this update, we highlight the risks and offer top tips for protecting the children and young people in your care. 

What is Dispo?

Guided by a sense of nostalgia, Dispo users can take photos on the app, but will have to wait until am the next day until they are ‘developed’ to see them. Users can then post them to their profiles. Dispo is currently only available on iOS Devices.  

 According to Dispo’s terms and conditions, users must be over 18 to use the app. Our testers have found that you will not be allowed access if you enter a date of birth that makes you under 18However, if this date of birth is changed to indicate a user is over 18, access is immediately granted without verification.  

Core Features

  • Users take photographs, which mimic the look and feel of a disposable camera.

  • Users can follow other people and like or comment on their pictures. 

  • Photographs can be either shared to user’s profile publicly or privately (called Solo).  

  • Pictures cannot be edited, and posts have no captions. 

  • ‘Rolls’ are a public collection of photographs submitted by strangers under a common theme and users can invite another user to their ‘Rolls’. 

  • Users cannot upload their existing photos from their phone; they must be captured within Dispo.
dispo photo feature

Safeguarding Risks

As with any social media app, there are some risks to be aware of 

dispo Home Screen

Who can follow you?

  • Anyone can follow another user, and there are no settings to prevent this from happening or to make profiles entirely private 

  • A user can view other users’ public photographs and read their bio, even without following them.

Who can see my photos?

  • Any user can view other users’ public photographs and read their bio, even without following them.
  • A user can go on to any other users’ profile and share photographs from that profile internally (i.e., on Dispo) or externally (on another platform such as Instagram or via WhatsApp). 

How do users interact on the platform?

  • Users can interact by liking photos, commenting on photos and liking comments.
  • Although Dispo has no private messaging feature, users commonly share their other social media usernames for platforms such as TikTok or Instagram in their bio. This means that a user could follow someone on another platform to privately message them. 

  • Users can create a private ‘roll’ to share photographs and invite users, which means two people could in fact privately communicate through sharing photos and leaving comments.

What content is allowed?

  • Because this app is new, it is difficult to determine whether they will remove or moderate inappropriate content.

  • As the app is for users aged 18 and over, it is reasonable to expect nude or other explicit content. If someone below the age of 18 has accessed the app (which is not difficult), they may well be exposed to age-inappropriate content. 

Other things to consider:

  • Default settings mean once photographs are ‘developed’, they will be uploaded publicly. Because users have not yet seen their photograph, this could result in young people accidentally sharing personally identifiable information, or something they later find embarrassing.

  • Given that some young people spend a lot of time perfecting a ‘look’ and curating their images, unexpected or unedited results could lead to disappointment and impact self-esteem or be used to facilitate bullying.

  • Users are encouraged to share their photographs to a ‘Roll’, an image-sharing space populated with strangers who communicate via comments and who are united under a similar theme such as ‘cats’ or ‘the great outdoors’. 

Safety Settings

Dispo has limited safety and privacy optionshowever users can: 

  • Change settings to make sure their photographs are saved to their private library and not shared publicly. This means no one else can see the photographs except the user, or those people they specifically invite. 

  • Photographs cannot be edited and can only be viewed the next day. If you are posting to a public roll, you can request a push notification to alert you upon publication. This means you can be one of the first to view it, and if unhappy, delete it. 

  • Dispo does not feature friend suggestions. Instead, users must search for whoever they want to follow. However, anyone can follow a user without permission. 

  • Rolls’ can be reported to the app developer. Our online safety experts are currently testing how robust and effective this tool is.  

  • Whilst anyone can follow a user, the app allows users to block accounts.  

dispo account public or private
Dispo notification, your photos are ready


Top Tips

  • Talk to your child about any interesting new apps they have heard of. 

  • Do not name this ‘Over 18 App’ to your child as curiosity may incite them to try it. 

  • If they are using it and or name it to you – don’t overreact. It is always good when a child feels they can speak openly to their parent or carer.

  • Use the information in this article to discuss and review the risks we have identified. If you choose to allow your child or believe they will continue to use this app, make sure you reinforce the dangers of engaging with people they don’t know, of sharing images and other personal information e.g., usernames on Facebook, TikTok or Snapchat.

  • As all content on Dispo is user-generated, there will always be the risk of harmful or inappropriate images being shared. It’s important to make sure children in your care know who to talk to if they see something online that upsets them.  

  • Check with the children in your care that they can name the trusted adults they would speak to if they had a problem or a worry.
  • We recommend users ignore invites from people they don’t know to join their ‘rolls’ and encourage children and young people to create their own ‘rolls’ with their friends.  

  • Because Dispo allows users to follow anyone, it’s important for people to regularly check their followers and block unknown users.

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