Teens above the age of 13 now have their own version of Tinder, the dating app that banned this age-group earlier in the year. It’s called Yubo, and it provides minors a platform to do something similar — talk to strangers on the internet, or as Yubo’s creators claim “make new friends.” Back in February 2020, police were warning about the dangers associated with the app, among them child pornography, lewd and lascivious battery, and obscene communication.
Formerly known as Yellow, Yubo has more than 20 million users. Available on both iPhone and Android, many describe the app as a cross between Tinder and Snapchat.
The age-range of Yubo users has raised alarm bells for parents, but Yubo claims it making efforts to prioritize safety on the app.
“Users have to be over the age of 13 and must have parental permission. To further protect young people, teenage Yubo users have their own community that is separate from adults who use the app,” a thread on their support page reads.
The Danger of Live-Streaming on Yubo
Yubo’s community guidelines haven’t impeded adults. Proving this point, Australian journalist Kasey Edwards created a fake profile. “It took me about three minutes to set up a fake – and unverified – profile on Yubo,” Edwards wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald. “I was then presented with images of teens who seemed to have interests other than getting to know my wit and charming personality.”
The 40-something Edwards explored further, clicking onto Yubo’s live-stream feature, landing on a seemingly-harmless video of a girl sitting on her bed brushing her hair. A message from another Yubo-user popped up on the screen requesting the girl “show her boobs.” The girl complied.
“It was so chilling to watch because, by definition, this video and others on Yubo, constitute child pornography,” Edwards wrote. “While the app says nudity is banned, there are obviously few controls. Anybody of any age, with any intentions, could have watched that video as easily as I just did. And that’s to say nothing of recording the content and re-distributing it.”
Edwards is one of many who’ve encountered the dangers of Yubo.
Tinder for Teenagers
According to police in St. Petersburg, Florida, Clayton Colborn, 28, lured a 13-year-old girl to two meet-ups by posing as “16-year-old Jason.” In Reading, Ohio, police arrested Joshua Nolan Pennington, a 26-year-old who faked his age on Yubo, then sexually exploited a 12-year-old girl met on the site. The pair also used Snapchat and Facebook Messenger the authorities said.
Recently, Rebecca Wagner, the mother of a 14-year-old daughter, took to Facebook to warn parents about Yubo’s dangers.
Yubo’s Approach to Internet Safety
For now, Yubo is addressing the internet’s dangers but not their own.
“Our advice for young people is to put the brakes on and take a moment before sharing this kind of personal information [where you live, where you go to college, your phone number or your email address] with someone you’ve only chatted to a few times online. It’s often best to err on the side of caution and keep certain personal details to yourself,” Annie Mullins OBE, co-founder of the Trust + Safety Group, an online safety organization that advises Yubo said on the app’s blog.
On January 27, Yubo’s blog described how their app launched a private chat feature to target parent’s concerns about their children’s information going public. The feature triggers a pop-up when someone types in a phrase such as “I live in London,” then gives an opportunity to change their mind about posting it. Prompting two choices: “delete message” or “send anyway.”
But this hasn’t stopped users from contacting minors. A recent post on their support page reads “Someone has used Yubo to contact my child/student for sexual purposes – who should I report it to?” Though Yubo advises the user contact the police and report the profile, it’s not targeting the larger issue — a pattern of behavior present on their app that’s putting minors in danger.
Parentology’s Other Links:
Yubo: Tinder for Teenagers — Sources
Parents, here’s an app your kids might be using that you should know about
Now teenagers have their own version of Tinder
There’s a Tinder for teens and its security seems appalling
Florida deputies warn about predators using new app to target kids
Man accused of sexually exploiting 12-year-old he met on Yubo app
Is there a minimum age limit for Yubo?