What does the Saturn app do and why are schools warning against it?

An increasingly popular shared calendar app called Saturn purports to help high school students organize their busy academic, extracurricular and social lives. But a growing chorus of school districts is now urgently warning parents that the app may put personal information at risk.

On Apple’s App Store, Saturn Technologies tells users that its free product—which supports only 9th-12th-grade students—is “the first calendar built around your classes, clubs, teams and friends’ schedules.”

“Saturn helps you manage your time so you can spend it doing things you love with the people who matter most,” Saturn Technologies Inc., declares on the App Store. “See what friends are doing in real time, chat with them, organize events, and share schedules all in one place.”

But a wave of school districts have issued warnings in the last few days, telling parents that anyone else who uses the app can see the photos of class schedules that students upload. Those photos can expose students’ names and grade levels to the public.

“This app is VERY concerning as it is a scheduling app that allows a student to upload their class schedule, and it tells other users who is in the student’s class,” Santa Rosa County District Schools in Florida posted on its Facebook page.

Students log in using cell phone numbers, Snapchat accounts or student email addresses and can join any school on the network, the district says. “Kids can then friend each other, but there is no guarantee that the student sending the friend request is actually a student,” Santa Rosa County says. “There are many, many other features on this app that have the potential to expose children to unsafe situations while online.”

West Baton Rouge Schools in Louisiana warned the Saturn app lacks security features that would protect high school students from predators, cyberbullying and inappropriate content. “If your child installed the Saturn App on their iPhone, you may want to delete it,” the district advises on Facebook.

Administrators in Bay District Schools, also in Florida, simply called Saturn “dangerous” and sent out mass calls, emails and texts alerting parents to talk to their children about uploading personal information to the app. “This setup is ripe for misuse by those with bad intentions,” Bay District Schools says on Facebook. “We plan to do a deep dive into this app ASAP but wanted you to know today that it’s out there and is dangerous. We are taking all of the steps necessary to ensure this app is blocked on our network and devices but need all parents/guardians to do the same as soon as possible.”

Mobile County Public Schools in Alabama suggested parents learn more about the app’s vulnerabilities.