Yubo is a French social networking app designed to ‘make new friends’ and join young people aged 13 to 25 together. With a whopping 25 million users worldwide, the app allows you to find new people by swiping left and right on who you’d like to be friends with. Think of it like Tinder, but for kids (which is already problematic for obvious reasons).
Although it is a brilliant way for young people to find others they can bond with, one can’t help but see the dangers it can cause; especially when parents and carers aren’t always aware of what’s going on.
As a teenager myself, I came across the app from an advert on Snapchat. It popped up whilst I was going through people’s stories and so, since I was in a time of complete boredom, I gave in.
It was very obvious that the adverts were all targeted to the specific age bracket of 11–17, because other people my age knew about it, but when speaking to older people, they had no clue what I was on about.
Signing up to the app felt a bit invasive at first.
They had the normal prompts; name, birthdate, gender, etc. But then I was forced into putting up a profile picture with no option to skip, and if I were to put any picture other then my face, a prompt would come up telling me I have no choice but to put one up of my face. If you don’t, you’ll be blocked until you do.
Although their reason behind it is to prove authenticity and to ensure everyone is who they say they are, why do I need to put that information up? Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms don’t force you. Especially if we’re dealing with kids here.
From the swiping mechanics, all the way down to how you present your biography and profile, this app copied Tinder, and pasted it for the teenage demographic.
But surely, the app has more problems than just its layout. The underlying issue is the fact it’s a dating site for children.
Obviously, there is nothing wrong for young people to explore and date one another, but when it’s all online and behind a screen, there’s nothing saying it isn’t a paedophile trying to lure children. It’s not a comfortable feeling knowing there’s eleven-year-olds on a dating app where anyone can have access to essentially everything personal about them.
I actually was catfished a few times, so it’s not just a possibility – it actually happened. The person had pictures of their face on their profile, and seemed really genuine by the way they talked, their interests etc.
Naturally, we moved onto Instagram because that’s how it goes. You meet someone, talk for a bit, then move onto messaging elsewhere. But as we moved off Yubo and began chatting on Instagram, their face was nowhere to be found. That was only one incident out of many.
The fact it also shows your location on your profile too, just further highlights the vulnerability of young children.
As well as this, it’s teaching children to objectify each other in general. On dating sites, you undeniably swipe right on someone who looks good and left on someone who doesn’t. By allowing Yubo to be on the market, aren’t we ultimately teaching children as young as eleven, that looks are everything?
Plus, if Yubo’s whole purpose is for “making friends” as their catch-line suggests, then that’s worse! We’re telling children to only be friends with the best looking? That is not preparing young, impressionable people of the future the right things.
Most importantly, the app condones the distribution of child pornography. The amount of times I’ve been scrolling and come across young girls showing their genitalia, with “add me for more” in their bio is disgraceful.
Surely, the developers at Twelve APP knew this was a risky app to release, but clearly failed to have any sort of moderator on the app to protect the welfare of the young demographic they are targeting.
Twelve APP have a guide on written called Yubo For Parents, which mentions the safeguarding tools they have for bullying, nudity etc. But after being on the app for six months, I have noticed none of this to have taken place.
Despite all of this, if used safely and followed by the rules and conduct, the app could be a great place for young adults to find friends from around the world and connect with one another. I have found some amazing people on there who I talk to even to this day.
It can make you feel a lot more confident with your looks, your sexuality, and even your personality.
Sometimes, you find people who can really make you feel better as a person and show you, you’re not the only one going through stuff.
I don’t think it’s a completely bad thing, and I don’t think the developers at Twelve APP necessarily had bad intentions behind it.
But if you have siblings or children, I would just talk to them about it, and keep them wary of the dangers that can happen.