App Designed for Minors Is Actually a Playground for Child Predators
Kate Casper and Regina Allen
With over 15 million users worldwide, Yubo is an app designed for teenagers from ages 13 to 18 to make “friends” online… sounds, innocent, right? In the app store, Yubo describes itself as follows: “Friendship is going to the next level! It’s like being at a party and meeting cool people every 10 seconds.” What app-makers fail to disclose is that this “party” involves underage drinking, child pornography, and heavy drug use.
“There are [several] different varieties [of people on Yubo]. There are the nudes guys…the creepy older people who are obviously too old to be on the site, pedophiles…then there are normal teenagers who are just trying to mess with people and be funny… My friend [and I] downloaded it for a fun pass time, definitely not to actually use it. Just for some laughs,” said a T.C. student. While some users do not take the app seriously, it is clear that most Yubo members have other motives.
Upon opening the app for the first time, the user is prompted to sign up by entering their name, birthdate, and gender. The app will tell the user that if they are under 13-years-old, they are not allowed to use the app. This is more of a warning than a rule, as there are still users younger than 13 and well above 18 on Yubo. The age range 13-18 is a recommendation, not a requirement.
This can be incredibly dangerous, with young impressionable children on the app being exposed to sexually suggestive material and drug usage. This presents the serious issue of child grooming and the exploitation of younger children present on the app who do not know what to do in that type of situation.
To combat these concerns, the app created mediocre ways of enforcing rules on drugs, nudity, and age limits, specifically with the “Report” feature where users can flag questionable posts. In addition, Yubo requires users to enter their phone numbers when signing up to ensure that users do not create more than one account; this can hinder potentially suspicious characters on the app.
Besides the “creepy guys,” there are everyday teenagers using Yubo, posing with joints, Juuls, guns, alcoholic beverages, and more. There are also sexually suggestive pictures or comments containing partial nudity, exposing underwear, or asking for nudes.
Another big component of Yubo is the live stream feature. People are encouraged to participate in live streams with up to 10 of their new “friends.” Other users can watch these live streams and they can participate by adding comments that will be shown to other users watching the live stream. The appropriateness of this is also questionable.
Another unsettling part of Yubo is that users can buy “power packs” to swipe more than 900 times a day or see the profiles that “secretly” added them. Functions like these turn relationships and dating into a game instead of something real. It desensitizes kids and teenagers to the process of dating and having a relationship.
Overall, Yubo is problematic for many reasons. It allows kids to participate in mature activities that they should not have access to. In order to combat these dangerous issues that may occur, users should take certain precautions. They should know how to handle situations that could put them in danger on the app, like coming into contact with child predators, sexual content, or drugs.