7 October 2021
It has come to our attention that some of our students have been using the Yubo App to live stream. We wanted to bring to your attention what this App is and how it can be dangerous for young people. We have spoken to students and have asked for them not to use it whilst on transport or in The RHISE Centre/ Vocational Placements.
We would ask that you read the information carefully and have a conversation with your child around the issue. We appreciate that many of the Sixth Form are moving towards independence and some their 18th Birthdays, but some of the content is inappropriate and dangerous for vulnerable young people.
Yubo, was previously known as Yellow and has become more popular among Teens. It started in 2015 and a number of controversies erupted as soon as it started getting a large number of young people as users. It mimics adult social media & dating apps like Tinder and has been called out for being a ‘dating app for teens’. It is feared throughout Safeguarding agencies that Yubo can be a ‘free ground’ for sexual predators/ groomers. The App guidelines do not state that profiles posting inappropriate content will be removed and there are reports of sexual, violent and self-harming videos (among other content) being posted. This is able to be viewed by your child.
What is Yubo?
· Yubo calls itself a platform to chat and livestream with friends.
· In the iOS App Store, it is rated for users 17+ and on Google Play, it is marked ‘T’ (Teen).
· Your child can register on Yubo with an active mobile phone number.
· New users need to provide personal details such as name, date of birth, phone number and more. A website called ‘Yoti’ allows the user to verify the account. A yellow tick appears on verified profiles.
· Users need to provide access to microphone and GPS.
· Users of the app can swipe right to say ‘yes’ and left for ‘no’, exactly as on Tinder and other dating apps. On Yubo, if both parties say ‘yes’, they are matched and can then chat and follow each other on Snapchat or Instagram.
· Users can also host live video streams or chats which are open for viewing. So strangers and friends alike can view such streamed events!
· Yubo app screenshots
Why should Parents/ Carers be worried?
Yubo came in for criticism as it became a platform for teenage sexting in Ireland. The original app was launched shortly after Tinder prohibited under-age users.
Let’s look at what’s wrong with Yubo.
· Poor Age Restrictions/Privacy Settings:
· Although the terms and conditions state that Yubo is strictly for users above 13, there is no credible age-gate that can prevent a young child from joining the platform.
· Impressionable young people who are insecure with their bodies have been observed to seek out adults or mature teens on the app to chat with or even ask to be ‘rated’.
· There is a growing concern that the app could be used for grooming.
· Adult predators have been known to create fake profiles displaying a teenager’s persona to lure unsuspecting young people into conversations.
· It is almost impossible to verify the true identity of a Yubo user.
· The livestream feature is, perhaps, the most worrying. Children are able to initiate live video streams of their day, in their bedroom or any other location.
· Any number of strangers can view the stream and can send questions or interact via live text chat. These are not restricted to friends alone and are often open to strangers; users are then encouraged to add unknown attendees/viewers as friends during the stream.
· The problems with strangers having a view into your child’s life should be self-evident.
· In addition, questions from strangers on livestream may result in teenagers giving away too much information.
· The most disturbing part of this feature is that anyone can record a livestream; this could potentially lead to unavoidable consequences.
· Yubo app screenshots
· Any user can connect other social media accounts e.g. Snapchat, Instagram, with the Yubo account. Therefore, it's easier for a potential predator to track down and stalk victims across platforms.
· The App Guidelines do not state that profiles posting adult/inappropriate content will be removed. Also, there are allegations that the content is not properly moderated.
· Yubo runs the risk of hosting a collection of disturbing content your children could be exposed to.
· There have been reports of groups demonstrating ‘how to self-harm’, posting nudes and semi-nudes for ‘ratings’ and explicit sexual and violent content.
Safety Measures for Parents/ Carers to Put in Place:
· Remember to pay attention to how your children are using social media.
· Pay attention to their actions/behaviour with their smartphones.
· Notice if they are asking for privacy or running to the bedroom or bathroom to use their smartphone.
· Also, there is a lot to catch up around teen texting codes. Young People posting pmoys- ‘post me on your story’.
· Keep open lines of communication with your children. Discuss their usage of social media and determine if they are using the app or wanting to start using it. If they are, first consider whether or not your child is emotionally mature enough to be exposed to the content shared on the app. If you feel they are, talk to them about what they hope to gain from Yubo and the potential risks.
· It’s important to advise them on the potential risks of sharing personal information with strangers. Remind your children that nothing is more important than their safety.
· It’s important to remember that most children will want to join Yubo for the same reason they want to join any other social network, from Instagram to Snapchat: curiosity, a desire to fit in, and FOMO- ‘Fear of missing out’.
While Yubo presents some more obvious dangers than other social networks, the app developers have reacted to popular outrage and parental concern by implementing some safety nets:
· Auto blocking of people with images that are obviously not of teenagers
· Blocking of users with fake profiles, by the team of human moderators
· Easy flagging of profile and content
· Option to keep location private
· Investigation and suspension of underage profiles (no indication of policy on overage profiles)
· Auto blocking of nude and semi-nude images
· Development of an algorithm to screen for nudity in live streams, shutting down the feed and blocking the user for a time
Ensure that your children know they can report any distressing or concerning content at the Yubo Safety Centre. You can also go through this guide with your teens to help them stay safe. Advise them to report any bad behaviour and to keep an eye out for inappropriate content. This can also be reported to staff at school too.
There are similar issues around Omegle too.
Hope this helps. We continue to stay informed so that we can keep our young people safe.
Roselyn House School/ The RHISE Service