You might recall last November we released a blog post on an app called Yellow – dubbed by some as ‘Tinder for Teens’.
Since our earlier blog post, the app has rolled out a number of new features, as well as attempting to help educate it’s teen user base on aspects of safety by launching a safety centre and parents guide to how it works. All steps in the right direction. It would seem…
We decided to take another look at features of the app. Here’s what we found.
Yellow or as it’s now called Yubo, has gone through a name change. The first time we noticed this was when the icon was updated. There’s been very little fanfare in terms of the name change – so parents and guardians may not been familiar with the new name.
In par with other apps Yubo allows it’s users the ability to live stream when using the app. Live streaming is now just limited to your friends on the app but can also been seen by others. The live stream creator has the option of adding viewers as new friends.
Live streaming does present a risk to children and young people, especially given the recent NCA #IamSam campaign to educate parents and carers about the risks and dangers of live streaming platforms. Also the increase in the use of live streaming platforms by online sex offenders.
Yubo allows users the ability to set up group video chats with other users on the app as well as to invite them to a group chat you’ve set up on Yubo. Users can also Instant Message (IM) each other one to one or in group chats. Users also have the option to ‘Go Live’ during the chat and start a live video stream.
One of the features within Yubo is the ability to find other users from around the world. It works by changing the preferences in the settings. Yubo users receive the following onscreen message:
I want to swipe people from…
• My country first
• All around the world
• My country only
Once this has been changed and the user taps on ‘Discover’ they can view Yubo profiles from other users within the chosen option. For example if they select ‘All around the world’ they’ll view profiles from different locations. Users then simply swipe left if you’d rather not be friends with them or swipe right to add them as a new friend. This principal feature seems the same as it was when the app originally came out. Once connected users then privately chat and access one another’s Snapchat and Instagram profiles.
Another feature within Yubo is the ability to connect to your Instagram profile or tag it to your profile on Yubo. Once you’re connected to your Instagram account those who stop by your profile have the option of viewing your 6 most recent Instagram pictures as well as seeing your Instagram username.
On the surface it seems that the app has made attempts to step up safety features within the app. This can be seen on the Yubo.live website where they offer a safety centre resource with a safety guide for teens and a guide for parents and educators on how Yubo works.
The creation of an account on Yubo is a straightforward process. Users must verify their phone number and then fill out the following profile information:
• Date of Birth
Users will then be asked if they would like to connect their Snapchat account to Yubo. This can be skipped. Finally users can upload a profile picture ‘Take a selfie’ to use on their profile.
It is worth noting that whilst Yubo are requesting that users be truthful when creating profiles eg being honest about their age – they only allow real photos of your face. If a user tries to use an alternative image which is not a profile picture they receive a notification from the moderation team in the form of a ‘Moderation Alert’ followed up by a Instant Message.
Yes and No…
In fairness to the creators of Yubo, they’ve put in effort to improve awareness and education on using the app safely – along with guidelines on best practises for users as well as information for parents and educators.
Although Yubo does offer reporting options, they seem to be limited. Within user settings the app is lacking features such as privacy tools as well as seeing and managing blocked users, turning on or off location elements and login verification.
Yubo does suggest when a user creates an account they must use a real picture of themselves. However it is possible to upload a picture or create a profile of someone who is not who they say they are. As long as you input your age as under 18 you can create an account with Yubo and begin swiping left or right.
After speaking to some users of Yubo they did say that it’s not always possible to identify the authenticity of a user by their profile picture. On viewing some of the profile pics, some have images of themselves behind a camera, some show just half of their face or are standing behind someone else so you can only see half of their face.
Age verification doesn’t really exist when you create an account. As long as you are under 18 and over 13 then your account will be created.
Fake profiles on social media platforms remain a huge problem. As platforms grow in numbers and features, moderation struggles to keep up with platforms – placing more reliance on algorithms to do the work in trying to pin point issues around trust and safety. As we continue the work to help young people develop functioning digital skills to help navigate the online world more safely, moderation crucially important.
The Yubo app is rated as 12+ and has over 15 million users worldwide.
Yubo is directly marketed to children and its purpose is to connect for relationships or friendship.
It’s aim to help users create live video rooms with up to 4 friends and an unlimited number of watchers spells danger and potential for exploitation, agree many online safety experts.
Parents need to have an awareness of what apps their child is using, get involved and aware of the risks and have regular conversations with them about making good choices and being safe online. Family Zone expert Sue reminds us that online opportunists ‘love live streaming’ and can use it as a way to connect and groom children and teenagers.
Posted By Wayne Denner