Meeting new people online can be exciting and fun for youngsters, however, it also comes with its own fair share of risks and dangers, especially in the online dating apps.
Child dating apps are new entrants in the scene but their introduction has resulted in cases of exploitation, child predation, and child abuse. With the internet becoming more accessible to young teens, the threat of online anonymity is an issue that more parents should be concerned about.
What is Yubo?
Child dating apps operate in a similar way to those designed for adults. The basic functions remain the same, with the only difference being that these apps are geared toward a younger audience.
Yubo is one of the most popular child dating apps downloaded by teens and pre-teens, which makes it a prime target for bad actors.
Commonly dubbed “Tinder for Teens”, Yubo functions the same way as its adult counterpart. Users swipe left or right to match with each other – if they both swipe right, they’re connected!
Unlike Tinder, however, users have the extra feature to broadcast live videos to an audience, be they, friends or strangers.
Why is Yubo Unsafe for Youngsters?
Jamie was a 12-year-old girl who had unfortunately found herself at the mercy of a pedophile in 2019. She had met 22-year-old Dewan Gazi, who claimed to be a 17-year-old boy, through Yubo.
The nightmare began for Jamie and her family in April when her mother reported her horrific ordeal to the police.
Jamie’s mother had found her dancing in underwear and exposing herself indecently. Her phone was propped up in the corner as if she was filming herself. The furious mother promptly contacted the police.
Police investigations later revealed that Jamie had started chatting with Dewan Gazi online earlier that year. The girl told him that she attended school and he proceeded to ask her to send photographs of herself wearing her uniform.
In an attempt to meet up with Jamie, he asked if she was ever home alone.
The pair had met once in person near a primary school and again when he arrived at her home three times while her mother was out. On one of these visits, Jamie was groped and forced to participate in sexual acts by the 22-year-old.
The mother had known something was off when her daughter became more secretive lately. However, she never expected this.
It is no surprise that Yubo had earned itself the reputation of being a playground for predators and pedophiles when it was first released.
While the app is marketed toward teens, there are a considerable number of adults using it as well. And this is where the crux of the issue is — the lack of protective safety control features leaves many of its underaged users vulnerable to adults with bad intentions.
But what are the causes that make this app so unsafe for youngsters?
1) No Age or ID Verification
The root cause for the large presence of adults on Yubo can be attributed to the lack of age and ID verification during the sign-up process. This allows adult sexual predators to easily create fake profiles to lure and groom children on the app.
While Yubo has made some effort to separate users into adult and teen categories, there is still no proper way to verify a user’s identity and age.
2) Adults Posing as Teens
According to reports, some boys aged 16 to 17, had met up with adult predators under the false belief that they were an attractive young girl.
Teenage girls were also pressured into sending lewd photos of themselves. Some even are tricked to meet face-to-face with these predators.
3) No Content Control
The lack of moderation for content posted on Yubo allows users to post whatever they want with little to no restriction.
This often leads to the sharing of inappropriate content, such as pornography and other graphic material.
4) Exposed Location Details
Yubo boasts a feature that allows users to turn on their location while using the app. This only happens when prompted but the high possibility that a child might accidentally turn on this feature poses a major security risk.
Not only does it expose the current location of the user, but it could also aid sexual predators in tracking down and reaching out to the child easily.
Why This Industry Needs ID Verification Solutions
It is frightening to think about how easy it is for predators to set up fake profiles to trick and groom young children on online dating apps like Yubo.
Without a way to verify and discern the true age and identity of a user, predators are given free rein to prey on children without being caught. The lack of an ID verification system means there is essentially no barrier between predatory adults and vulnerable children on these apps.
Cybercriminals/child predators will always find ways to cheat the system. In 2022, we found that the majority of bypass cases involve screen spoofing and phishing attacks.
At Innov8tif, we remain committed to preventing fraud and scaling your ID assurance systems. We believe that identity assurance is the utmost cybersecurity priority in order to protect yourself, your customers, and, your loved ones from bad actors.