Teens using Yubo may be at risk – study

Social network dubbed ‘Tinder for teens’ allows for live streaming of video and chat

The Yubo app has raised concerns with parents and teachers because of its potential to create friendships with strangers.

The Yubo app has raised concerns with parents and teachers because of its potential to create friendships with strangers.

 

Young people using Yubo – a social network dubbed “Tinder for teens” – may be jeopardising their privacy and leaving themselves at risk , according to a new study.

Yubo, formerly known as Yellow, is a location-based social networking app where users can connect with new friends by swiping left on a user’s profile. It also allows for the live streaming of video and chat.

The app – which has thousands of Irish users and 15 million worldwide – has raised concerns with parents and teachers because of its potential to create friendships with strangers.

A new study by Dublin City University (DCU) has found that many users are sharing content through secondary profiles such as Instagram and Snapchat. This, it found, was jeopardising their privacy and leaving themselves vulnerable.

Emojis

The app encourages users to describe themselves using emojis. Some 65 per cent of the profiles in this study contained emojis and half of the eight most frequently used emojis were categorised as having a sexual meaning.

Sexually suggestive or sexualised images on profiles, however, were very rare, it found.

Yubo itself has a policy of removing this imagery and suspending users’ accounts.

Liam Challenor, doctoral researcher at DCU’s national anti-bullying centre, said its research identified 15 year olds as the most prevalent users of Yubo, representing almost one-third of the overall sample.

“We also found that this age group engaged in more ‘risky’ behaviours on the app than other ages,” he said.

“While Yubo is making strides to make the platform safer for teenagers, it’s important that parents and teachers are aware of how the app works and what sort of activity is going on on it.”

The split between male and female was fairly even. A total of 60 per cent were between the ages of 13 and 16, and 40 per cent were 16 or 17.

Yubo users can share their username or snapcode in their bio or on profile pictures, though recent changes on the app mean they can no longer connect their Instagram or Snapchat accounts.

The research found that 80 per cent of users had public Instagram profiles, while 7 per cent shared their Snapchat details publicly.

“Growing concerns about privacy and disclosure online that prompted this study have been borne out in the results. A large number of the users on the app appear to mitigate their own privacy risks in favour of creating new online friendships,” the study states.