Why do you use anonymous apps like Omegle?

Popular anonymous site Omegle closed suddenly in November 2023 following several legal battles and accusations about its content and safety. Anonymous apps are platforms that let users stay anonymous while talking to others around the world. For Omegle, this meant matching strangers up together to engage in conversation.

Freya from Scotland says she used the site and other anonymous apps like Omegle since she was in her early teens. She says that the apps are most fun when she uses them with friends such as when they’re at sleepovers or visiting each other’s houses.

“A big part of the fun is that they are anonymous, and you don’t know what you’re going to see, and it is usually funny,” she says. “It’s a bit like telling each other scary stories or playing truth or dare – you might see something you shouldn’t, but that’s part of the appeal.”

Harry from Northern England says that anonymous apps are a good way to fill time when he is bored. “It gives you something to do, and you can chat with people who have a common interest,” says Harry. “It’s just a way to kill time, really.”

Which anonymous apps do you use?

Both Freya and Harry name Omegle as an anonymous app they enjoyed. However, now that Omegle is closed, they must turn to alternatives.

Freya says that most of her friends are using alternative apps like Kik, Discord or Telegram. “Kik used to be what people would use if they wanted to talk for longer than you can on Omegle, so a lot of people will use that. But I also know lots of people who join Discord servers that are run by friends, or friends of friends,” she says.

Harry also named Discord as an alternative to Omegle. “I play Xbox online, and you can look up the game you’re playing at the moment and find other people to swap tips or play against,” he says.

While Discord doesn’t work the same as Omegle and other similar sites, users can stay relatively anonymous to others.

What are the risks?

Freya and her friends have seen the positive and negative sides of anonymous apps, with adults and older teens sometimes sharing explicit content or trying to scare younger users. “Something that happens a bit is when you chat to someone and they immediately put your IP address in the chat window, or they post your name, and that can be quite scary,” she says.

Freya says that these experiences scared her when she was younger, but now she thinks it’s mostly older kids trying to scare youngsters. “Now, I just click ‘escape’ to talk to the next person if someone is creepy. But I also learned quite quickly how to hide my identity and my IP address by using a VPN,” she says.

Harry says most of his experiences have been positive, because he is quick to shut down a chat if something doesn’t seem appropriate. “Whenever anything looks like it might go negative, you just shut the window. Like, people can sometimes be horrible or rude, or they might do something you don’t want to see or talk about,” he says. “There’s no filter or anything [on some anonymous apps], so I know there’s nothing to stop someone being hateful or violent or showing something explicit.”

While his experiences have been mostly positive, Harry says he does worry about his younger brother using anonymous apps. “Obviously, the sites just take your word for it if you say you’re under 18, but it’s not always true. And there aren’t any obvious filters that stop people from sharing things you might not want to see,” he says. “You just have to be aware of it and try to end a chat if something looks like it’s not going anywhere positive.”

How do you stay safe on these apps?

“I’d say younger people shouldn’t use their camera, and try to use a VPN and incognito browser,” says Freya. “Also, I only use those apps when I’m with friends and we’re having fun, not on my own. If I was talking to someone younger, I’d say never use the camera and turn off the adult mode, so you can only talk to other kids – although people can say they are any age online.”

Harry says that the most important advice for other teens considering using anonymous apps is to be self-aware. “Make sure you only keep speaking to people who are genuinely interested in the things you want to talk about, and also make sure you’re not giving away any personal details,” he says. “If someone does something inappropriate, you can . . . report them to the Discord server, and they’ll eventually get banned.”

Should parents worry about anonymous apps like Omegle?

Freya thinks some of the concerns about anonymous apps like Omegle are exaggerated. “I think parents often underestimate how savvy teenagers are about technology. For younger teens, I think it can be dangerous; but older kids understand how to hide their identity online, and to ignore creepy men trying to scare us, or get your email address,” she says.

Freya’s mum knows that she uses social media and anonymous apps to chat to people. While she doesn’t approve, she does pay for a VPN application to help Freya stay anonymous online. “My mum probably doesn’t know everything I do, but we have a pretty open dialogue, and she talks to me about the risks, and make sure I understand them,” she says. “The rules are always that I use the VPN, I keep my camera off and I only use those apps when I’m with friends.”

Other apps like Omegle to look out for

With Omegle now closed, other anonymous apps might increase in popularity among young people. It’s important to stay on top of your child’s digital life and understand the apps they use.

Along with Discord that both Freya and Harry report using as an anonymous app, here are some others to look out for.

  • Copycat websites or apps pretending to be Omegle
  • Chatroulette
  • Chatrandom
  • Monkey
  • YouNow
  • Tinychat
  • Kik

Learn more about anonymous and decoy apps like Omegle that teens might use.

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Recent changes in online safety

As the old saying goes, you wait ages for a bus and then two come along at the same time.

Those of us working in online safety certainly feel like this after a busy fortnight, in which two key moments came to pass:

  • the Online Safety Bill received Royal Assent and thus became law;
  • the UK took centre stage with the global AI Summit.

What is the Online Safety Act?

What started as a ‘green paper’ (a range of ideas for new government policy) in 2017 later became a more concrete ‘white paper’ in 2019. That led to a full draft of the new proposals, the Online Safety Bill, which was produced in 2021. But this was not the end of its evolution, with many changes and revisions made as the draft law wound its way through Parliament.

The Online Safety Act is a landmark piece of legislation with the potential to transform children’s online experiences. With the Act, Platforms will have a much bigger responsibility to keep children safe:

  • by identifying and anticipating the risks, and putting systems and processes in place to address them; and/or
  • preventing children accessing content which is wholly inappropriate for them.

Specific harms identified which platforms will need to address include eating disorder content, self-harm and suicide content, pornography, and bullying.

How will the Online Safety Act impact families?

The Online Safety Act will not remove all risk from the internet, nor is it a perfect piece of legislation. For example, Internet Matters would have liked to see greater support for parents.

Nevertheless, it is the result of six years of intense scrutiny and an unprecedented degree of cross-party collaboration. For the first time, parents should expect age-appropriate services by default and rigorous age checks. It could make a huge difference – with the right implementation.

What role will Internet Matters play as the law is implemented?

Internet Matters – and the wider online safety sector – still have a role to play. The baton has now passed to Ofcom, the new online safety regulator, who have an immense amount of work to do to flesh out the detail of the new regulatory regime.

For example, Ofcom will begin by looking at how platforms should tackle online child sexual abuse material (CSAM) – a topic explored in our recent research into online misogyny and sharing of sexual images. We look forward to continuing our close engagement with Ofcom, sharing our research insights to champion the voices of children and their parents.

How Government is addressing artificial intelligence

On 1-2 November, the UK played host to a hotly anticipated worldwide summit on Artificial Intelligence. For the past year, barely a day has gone by without AI making the headlines, whether for good or bad. The purpose of the Prime Minister’s summit was to bring together nations to reflect on these developments, and to discuss the long term benefits and risks across many areas of life – from health to defence, business to democracy, to name just a few.

It is welcome that policymakers and industry leaders worldwide are thinking ahead to the big problems AI might pose. After all, the past two decades has shown us what happens when there isn’t enough reflection on the social impacts of new technology, with many children experiencing harm online. However, this summit is the start of a journey, not the end.

As the conversation about AI unfolds, we’d like to see two things:

  • A much greater focus on the impact of AI on the lives of children and families, not just businesses, the economy and the country as a whole.
  • Consideration and action on opportunities and issues in the short term, not just thinking ahead to the long term.

Artificial intelligence in education

AI is already beginning to re-shape what – and how – children learn. For example, schools have been promised personalised AI assistants to help with lesson planning, and many teachers and children have taken to using ChatGPT to support learning. Developments like these raise very real and immediate questions in relation to fairness, equality, the curriculum and more. Furthermore, it has led to more existential debates about the purpose of education and how to equip children for an AI-driven future.

How is Internet Matters tackling AI safety?

Schools, parents and children need answers on how to approach AI now. For this reason, Internet Matters is conducting original research to find out more about how families think and feel about this technology, particularly in the context of children’s education. We will be sharing our findings in the New Year, publicly and with key decision-makers, including the Department for Education – so watch this space.

Supporting resources

Internet Matters is passionate about standing up for families to those making big decisions affecting children’s safety online. But we are equally passionate about providing hands-on, practical advice, so that parents can do their bit to protect children too.

Explore the following resources for more information on artificial intelligence and keeping children safe online.

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What is Omegle?

Omegle is one of the more popular video chat sites available online. It pairs random users identified as ‘You’ and ‘Stranger’ to chat online via ‘Text’, ‘Video’ or both.

A user can also choose to add their interests, and Omegle will try to pair a user with someone who has similar interests. If not, you could meet anyone. Chats are anonymous unless the user states who they are. It’s free and no account sign up is required.

There are many imitation apps such as ‘Chat for Omegle’, ‘Free Omegle Chat’ and ‘Omeglers’, but there is no longer an official Omegle app. All sites and apps appear to share the same features and purpose, but only some are linked to Omegle. As such, parents and carers should check to see which apps kids have got installed on their phones and the risks presented with each.

The Omegle website is now closed.

What happened to Omegle?

Omegle is permanently closed. In an open letter to users on the Omegle home screen, founder Leif K-Brooks explained the decision. In summary, he explained the following points as reasons for shutting down Omegle.

  • misuse of the platform, including “to commit unspeakably heinous crimes.”
  • the “never-ending battle” of moderation and fighting such crimes.
  • attacks directed at the platform. K-Brooks said, “the only way to please these people [attacking the platform] is to stop offering the service.” He also explains that these attacks lead to widespread fear, which wasn’t what he intended Omegle to do.
  • stress and expenses from fighting to keep Omegle running safely and positively.

The decision came shortly after the Online Safety Act became law in the UK. This law will require platforms to enhance safety features for under-18s.

Who uses Omegle?

Like most social media sites, Omegle has a minimum age rating of 13 years with parental permission. Without parental permission, users must be 18 years or older.

Omegle is particularly popular in the US, UK, India and Mexico. It is also extremely popular among children and young people because a lot of social media influencers use and post about it. For example, the #omegle hashtag has approximately 5 billion views on TikTok.

Is Omegle safe?

Risk of sharing or viewing inappropriate content


Omegle does not appear to have powerful moderation. It also does not require registration or have age verification, which makes young people a potential target for abuse online. Its site states “predators have been known to use Omegle, so please be careful.”

Children and young people may be asked by strangers to share their name, age and location. So, it’s also important to talk to your child about sharing personal information online with strangers.

A BBC investigation found sexually explicit videos and live streams involving minors as young as 7 or 8 which spread across the site during the Covid-19 pandemic. BBC alerted the relevant authorities. However, there is still a risk of users unexpectedly coming across pornography and other types of inappropriate content.

According to the BBC’s investigation, schools, police forces and governments have issued warnings about Omegle in the UK, US, France, Norway, Canada and Australia. There were also investigations into online child abuse on Omegle along with reports of racism, extremist views, scams and cyberbullying.

Lack of moderation on video chat

The video chat has an adult, moderated and unmoderated option that can be easily accessible by underage users. Clicking the button, the users will be directly on live video and text chat, without warning which unfortunately allows for children to be easily exposed to inappropriate content in a matter of seconds.

Additionally, the video chat opens up the possibility for footage to be recorded and distributed without the user’s consent. This may be a leading contributor to a growth in searches for Omegle porn videos.

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Types of chat options:

  • Adult – anyone can access this, which contains heavily explicit content and pornographic acts. The user only needs to confirm by clicking a button then they’re redirected to an external site
  • Moderated chat – according to Omegle’s disclaimer, they moderate chats and say “… moderation is not perfect. You may still encounter people who misbehave.” However, they do not state how it does this effectively or how frequently
  • Unmoderated chat – this option comes with a warning box advising the user they need to be 18+, but an underage user can easily click ‘OK’ to enter. Users are highly likely to encounter risks such as online grooming along with sexually explicit and violent content

Anonymous text chat

The text chat has a ‘spy’ function where users can be the ‘spy’ and log on as a hidden 3rd party in a text chat between two people.

The ‘spy’ can then ask the other two users to discuss a particular topic/question and view their replies. Alternatively, a user can be the participant and discuss the question with another user.

A ‘spy’ can exit without ending the chat between the other two users.

Common workarounds and searches

As is the case with any blocked website or app, children may try to find alternatives. So, it’s important to have conversations about why sites like Omegle are blocked and how this helps keep them safe. Many Omegle alternatives may lead to cyber attacks, risk of online harm and more if accessed.

Still, popular searches that may come from young people include ‘Omegle unblocked’ as well as ‘How to get unbanned from Omegle’, which may have resulted from misuse of the platform or underage access.

Omegle alternatives to watch out for

There are other platforms and apps that teens might try to use if Omegle is blocked in their browser. They may also use these apps thinking they are Omegle itself. See some of the more common apps like Omegle below to help you stay aware of your child’s online activity.

Copycat websites

Check for misleading Omegle URLs

Some potentially harmful copycat web-based versions of Omegle exist and show up in web search results.

Some of these URLs may bypass browsers or broadband networks that block the original website. As such, when a user searches for ‘Omegle’ on a search engine that blocks the site, these copycat URLs may show up in its place.

While the domain looks like it is Omegle.com, the domain extension (where ‘.com’ should be) is different from the official website.

Watch out for websites that pretend to be Omegle

Additionally, these Omegle copycats may lead to security threats of malware or other cyber attacks, so it’s important children know not to click on unfamiliar links.

The official website it Omegle.com, not any alternatives.

Tinychat

What is Tinychat?

Tinychat is an online chatroom that lets users chat via instant messaging, voice chat or video chat. Unlike Omegle, users can choose a chatroom to join to talk with people of similar interests. Users must be 18+ but no age verification process exists to stop younger users.

If your child is looking for online communities, encourage them to use safe message boards on websites like Childline and Ditch the Label. Or, if your child needs support related to LGBTQ+ questions or identity, see guidance and suggestions here.

Chatrandom

Chatrandom shows up in different forms. These include:

A misleading Omegle link

This website is disguised to look like it might belong to Omegle. However, the Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions pages show inconsistencies with the original page. Additionally, the links, layout and content all aim to mislead users.

If a user searches ‘Omegle’ or ‘Chatrandom’ through a search engine that blocks the original, this misleading link may show up in the search results.

Learn how to spot different types of misleading content with our guide to fake news and misinformation.

A downloadable app

Chatrandom is a website that works similarly to Omegle and is also downloadable on mobile. Like Omegle, it is for users 18 and over. It also includes guidance in its terms against sexually explicit content. However, users may still be at risk of seeing inappropriate or pornographic content. Children should not use Chatrandom.

Chatroulette

What is Chatroulette?

Chatroulette is very similar to Omegle with both being launched in the same year. Just like Omegle, users risk exposure to inappropriate and pornographic content. It is also intended for users over 18.

Copycat websites

Chatroulette.com is the official website. However, many copycats exist with different domain extensions (instead of .com, they will have something like .io) just like with Omegle. These may bypass parental controls you have set, so it’s important to discuss the dangers with children.

The random pairing of video chat with strangers can leave them open to risks like inappropriate content, abuse, grooming, porn and more.

YouNow

YouNow is a web app that shares similarities with Omegle, YouTube and Yubo.

What is YouNow?

YouNow is a platform that encourages users to interact with followers, meet new people and chat about a range of topics. Users are encouraged to go live and broadcast their content to a range of users.

YouNow age requirements

Users on YouNow must be at least 13-years-old with parent supervision. Otherwise, they must be 18+.

Safety concerns

  • unpredictability of live broadcasts: while YouNow has Community Guidelines that warn against sexually explicit or violent content, harassment and hate speech and encouraging dangerous behaviour, the very nature of live streaming leaves users open to risk of all these things.
  • no age restrictions around live broadcasts: YouNow does not seem to have restrictions on what age users must be to broadcast live. Some apps like TikTok, on the other hand, require users to be at least 18-years-old to livestream to promote safety of minors.

Learn more about social media and how to keep your child safe with the Social Media Advice Hub.

Monkey

What is Monkey?

Monkey is a video chat app that, like Yubo, encourages users to make friends. Like Omegle, it is for users over the age of 18 but does not have any age verification processes. As such, there are many reports of minors on the Monkey app producing or participating in inappropriate content.

Unlike Omegle, Monkey requires users to sign up to keep track of their conversations and the people they chatted with. As soon as a user has an account, they can start chatting to strangers.

Apps like Monkey

Monkey is for solo users but also links to Duo, which allows users to invite their friends to the chat via a link. Monkey also promotes a Group version called Three and a Global version called Hay.

Does Omegle have any parental controls?

Although there are prompts to encourage the safe use of the platform, Omegle does not have any parental controls.

According to Omegle, they monitor conversations, but despite stating ‘video is monitored, keep it clean’, children and young people visiting this section are likely to encounter numerous other users engaging in sexually explicit chat and activity putting them at risk.

There are no instructions on how a user can report other users or content, even though Omegle’s disclaimer advises that users can. There is also no block or mute feature either nor is there a robust enough system of monitoring or filtering video/text chats, so it’s important to enable parental controls on their phone and/or your home broadband.

In addition to the potential online risks, parents should also be aware of the danger of these conversations moving from Omegle to other platforms, or from online to offline, and potential meetups.

It’s important to understand that Omegle connects kids with strangers of any age, so we would advise parents to consider restricting the use of the platform for children under 18.

Ways of keeping children safe online

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What is Anti-Bullying Week?

Anti-Bullying Week is an initiative run by the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA) across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It encourages teachers, parents and kids to take a stand against bullying.

At Internet Matters, we support the ABA and the role devices and technology can play in bullying.

This year’s theme is ‘Make a noise about bullying’. This year’s calls to action is to speak out when we see bullying — including words meant as banter or jokes. The ABA wants us to “come together to have discussions about what bullying means to us, how banter can turn into something more hurtful and what we can do to stop bullying.”

What to teach for Anti-Bullying Week

Digital Matters is a free platform full of resources for teachers, parents and students to teach and learn about online safety. It currently features 9 different lessons for teachers to choose from for Anti-Bullying Week 2023.

Sign up to get full access to all lesson materials including for our newest lesson, ‘Is it funny or is it hate?’

Is it funny or is it hate?

This new cyberbullying lesson from Digital Matters takes a look at the words we use and how things meant as jokes aren’t always funny.

As with all Digital Matters lessons, ‘Is it funny or is it hate?’ is divided into two parts: Interactive Learning and Once Upon Online.

Interactive quizzes and discussions

Interactive Learning works best in the classroom and closely follows the lesson plan available in the teacher’s lesson pack. Teachers must sign up with Digital Matters to access the lesson materials and scenario that supports this section.

The scenario features two friends, Devin and Jay, exchanging banter. When Devin makes the wrong ‘joke’, Jay feels hurt. However, Jay hides his hurt with a laughing emoji, so it isn’t until Devin’s mum gets a call that she even knows he was hurt!

Two smartphones showing screenshots of the Interactive Activity part of the 'Is it funny or is it hate?' cyberbullying lesson from Digital Matters.

It’s common for children to make jokes at others’ expenses, but they might not yet understand where limits lie. In Interactive Learning, teachers can lead discussions around the scenario, focusing on the impact of our words and why reactions don’t always tell the whole story. Students will also discuss different actions victims, bystanders and perpetrators can take to make things right.

Apply learning through storytelling

Once Upon Online features the story ‘Playing With Hate’, which stars Nia. In the adventure-style story, Nia joins a new online game and is shocked to see hateful words directed towards her. Students must help Nia (and her nain) make choices to support Nia’s time online.

Cover image for the Once Upon Online cyberbullying story from Digital Matters called Playing With Hate.

Throughout the story, students learn about reporting and blocking functions available in the games they play, community guidelines and where to get support. Students can help Nia reach out to her nain, call Childline, take a break and more to support her wellbeing and positive time online.

Teachers can use Once Upon Online directly after Interactive Learning, as a review for a previous lesson or as a homework activity for students to do with their parent.

How does Digital Matters support the curriculum?

Teachers can use Digital Matters in any way that suits them. Commonly, they use it in computing or PSHE (England) lessons. However, every teacher pack includes a curriculum links guide to a range of subject areas.

Use Digital Matters in English or Literacy lessons to teach reading comprehension and discussion skills. Or, you can use it in Health and Wellbeing or Relationships Education to teach positive behaviour, or digital literacy and computing lessons to understand the online space.

See an example of the teacher pack for more >>

More free resources for Anti-Bullying Week 2023

Explore a range of other resources for Anti-Bullying Week 2023 from Internet Matters. Teachers can access the quiz companion guides to help create lessons around quiz topics, or they can share resources with parents, carers and other educators.

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Why has the Education Select Committee opened this inquiry?

The Education Select Committee recently opened an inquiry into how screen time can support and impact children’s developmental and educational outcomes. Committee Chair, Robin Walker MP said the Committee hopes the inquiry will lead to recommendations on best harnessing the benefits that can support children.

They also said the inquiry will explore “the potential ways that screen time can impact children’s mental health and wellbeing.” The Committee hopes to find ways to reduce the negative impacts through education and safeguarding.

What is Internet Matters’ response?

Our response draws on insights from our annual ‘Children’s Wellbeing in a Digital World Index’ as well as our twice-yearly, nationally-representative ‘Digital tracker’ survey. It sets out our vision for shaping the notion of screen time.

Key insights from our response

  • While the quantity of screen time matters to some degree, so too does the quality of children’s time spent online. The term ‘screen time’ can oversimplify this concept.
  • Parents play a key role in keeping children safe online, serving as the primary source for information and support when issues come up. However, parents require more support themselves and cannot bear this responsibility alone.
  • While it’s worth noting that platforms, government entities and Ofcom have respective roles to play in making services safe by design, the focus of our response does not include these aspects. Instead, our current discussion centres on the inadequacy of online safety education in schools, which remains fragmented. Currently, it lacks clear definition of responsibilities between schools and parents, as well as among DSIT, Ofcom and DfE.

More to explore

See more in research and policy from Internet Matters.

What is Yubo?

Yubo is a social media app created in 2015 by French engineering students. Originally called Yellow, it was a Snapchat companion app to help users find friends before becoming its own social networking app. It now has 60 million users worldwide.

Its social discovery feature encourages friendship with people from all over the world. Users swipe between profiles and videos being live streamed to meet new people with similar interests. There are separate communities for those aged 13-18 and those over the age of 18 to help keep teens safe on the app.

The ‘Yuboverse’ lets users live stream with up to 10 people, play virtual games and share screens.

Who uses Yubo?

Yubo is most popular among 13-25-year-olds, which make up an estimated 99% of users. It gained popularity in recent years, especially over the Covid-19 pandemic that saw more interactions online. For instance, from December 2019 to November 2020, the user base increased from 25 million registered users to more than 40 million. In 2022, it boasted 60 million users, showing incredible growth in recent years.

How does it work?

Once you download the app, you must create an account. To do that, you need to enter your birthday, upload a recent picture of yourself and enter your phone number. Photos of pets are not accepted; it must be a photo of yourself. Users then go through identity and age verification before they can use the platform.

Live streaming

Like other social networking apps, users can live stream in real time through the app. Anyone on Yubo can see their live broadcast and send messages, not just their friends. The user streaming the video can choose whether to add viewers as new friends.

The live streaming feature is the app’s core feature and connects people with similar interests.

Making new friends

Yubo’s design encourages users to make friends with people from all over the world. People can request others be their friends by connecting through Swipes and live streams. Users can also set filters for the age, gender and location of the content they want to see.

What is Yubo’s age verification?

Yubo users must be at least 13 years old to use the app. When you register, you must provide your date of birth, name, gender identity, mobile number and a photo clearly showing your face. These actions help keep children safe online.

The Yubo app verifies your age through age estimation via photos. However, if you appear older than your stated birthday, you must also provide identification to prove your age. Yubo does this, in part, to limit unwanted contact from adults.

Risks and concerns about Yubo

Underage users

When signing up, users must enter their birthday. If it shows they are under 13 years of age, they receive the following screen:

Underage users screen on Yubo

While an underage user cannot access the app, they can retry with a fake birthday to access the app. However, additional age verification processes make it more difficult for underage children to use the platform.

The age verification process also makes it more difficult for adults to pretend they are younger than they say. If the selfie they take doesn’t match with the age they inputted, they need to provide additional identification.

Finally, separate communities exist for under-18s and adults to prevent additional harms. Still, it’s important to help your child understand why these restrictions are in place so they don’t come across inappropriate content or connect with the wrong people.

Location sharing

If you have locations enabled, you can find friends nearby. Your location is then shown to other potential ‘friends’ along with your name and age.

However, location settings are disabled by default for all Yubo users under 18. Additionally, all users who share their location can choose which information is public and can hide their location.

Inappropriate content

Like any social media app, inappropriate content is a risk on Yubo, especially with the integral live streaming feature. However, Yubo uses second-by-second AI filters to moderate live streams in real time to enforce their Community Guidelines.

If the algorithm flags something, human Safety Specialists intervene. This includes taking down live streams, banning users (temporarily or permanently) and reporting to law enforcement when necessary.

To keep teens safe, teach them how to report and block inappropriate content if they come across it. When reporting content, users can upload images, screenshots and videos to support their report.

Bullying and hate speech

Also like other online platforms, bullying and hate speech may show on Yubo. Again, the live streaming feature may make it more difficult to filter such language. However, as mentioned above, AI filters work to monitor live streams.

Additionally, teaching your child when they need to report or block someone, including what bullying and hate speech look like, will help keep them and the platform safe.

Grooming and exploitation

Despite the safety features Yubo puts in place, there is always a risk online of grooming and exploitation. In live streaming scenarios, these risks may increase. What’s important is the conversations about how these things might appear. It’s also important to note that grooming and exploitation happens between children and not just from adults.

Scams

Scams are rampant everywhere online, but social media offers a lot more opportunity. Whether it’s through social media phishing attacks or NFTs and crypto scams, your child could be targeted. Stay aware and teach your child to think before they click on something unfamiliar.

Yubo safety guides document

Yubo safety features

As Yubo transitioned from a Snapchat companion app into its own platform, the creators have found different ways to keep its users safe. They do this through:

  • age and identity verification: when a user signs up, they must complete a robust age and identity check that proves they are who they say
  • separate communities: under-18s and adults cannot communicate with each other; they each have their own separate communities
  • block and report functions: Yubo users can block or report other users and content that go against the community guidelines
  • muted words: users can set muted words for ‘everyone’ or ‘everyone except my friends’. This helps them take control of what strangers can say to them.
  • content moderation: Yubo checks profiles, monitors live streams and monitors direct messages to help prevent risky behaviour and offenders. This is done through AI filters and human Safety Specialists
  • pop-up alerts: if a user is about to share something private like their phone number or where they live, a pop-up will help them think twice
  • custom Swipes: users can customise who comes up in their Swipes. For instance, a 14-year-old might only want to see content from others their age, so they can set that to be the case.

Things you can do to protect your child

If your child uses the app or wants to use the app, there are various things you can do to help them stay safe and have fun.

  • Set up privacy controls: go through the Yubo app with your child and set up limitations together. This will help them take ownership of their safety and will give you the opportunity to talk about why those limitations are important.
  • Have regular conversations: talk about what live streams they see, the friends they make and the content they interact with. Taking interest in their digital lives will help them feel more confident about opening up if something goes wrong.
  • Explore the app yourself: gain confidence in their online safety by creating your own Yubo account. Learn about how it works so you’re better able to support your child if they need it.
  • Talk about the ‘hard stuff’: it can be uncomfortable to talk about online safety issues like grooming, child-on-child abuse, cyberbullying and other like-issues. However, talking about these things before they happen will help prepare your child in case they do.
Set parental controls

Yubo logo

See our step-by-step guide to help you review and set privacy controls with your teen on Yubo.

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Similar apps to watch out for

If your teen uses Yubo, they might also use those that are similar. Some, like the sendit app, may work as a companion app to platforms like Snapchat.

Wink (and Soda)

Wink

Wink is an app that, like Yubo, encourages users to find new friends. It also uses a swiping feature similar to many dating apps though its Terms of Services state “it is not a dating app.” It shares many similarities with Yubo:

  • users can choose the age, location and gender of those they’d like to interact with
  • users can find and request to follow you. When you join, you receive these requests fairly instantly without needing to ‘match’ with anyone. Yubo does this as well, though not to as frequent a degree as Wink
  • it has increased in popularity among young users with an age minimum of 13
  • it once worked as a companion app to Snapchat
  • while the creators claim it is not a dating app, the functions are very similar to those that are

Unlike Yubo, Wink doesn’t have the same age and identity verification process. However, they have an additional app called Soda that  is a version of Winks for 13-17-year-olds only. Soda does use age verification.

Users who create an account on Wink find minimal safety features and difficulty deleting their account. To delete an account, you must contact the Wink Team through email.

BeFriend (formley Swipr)

BeFriend (formerly Swipr)

BeFriend (formerly called Swipr) is another app like Yubo that encourages users to make friends for Snapchat. However, when joining, it encourages users to spend on Swipr Plus for more features.

While BeFriend is for those aged 17+, the app works like a dating app. Users swipe left or right to pass or like others. Additionally, there are no age verification features beyond asking users to enter their age.

Unlike Yubo, there are minimal safety features as a user. However, it is easier to delete your account than Wink.

While BeFriend’s Terms of Service state “it is not a dating app,” when you delete your account, one reason you can give is “I met my special someone.”

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Where does misogyny content come from?

James and his wife are increasingly concerned about misogynistic content online, especially in recent years. Much of this misogynistic content comes from well-known influencers and celebrities on social media where his teen boys see it, says James.

“I’ve come across various examples from Andrew Tate to Donald Trump and Jeremy Clarkson,” he says. When these stories hit the news, James talks to his sons and is careful to make sure they feel able to share their own perspective.

“When we first talked about Jeremy Clarkson’s comments about Meghan Markle, there was some disagreement to begin with. [His sons] are both big fans of Top Gear and Grand Tour, and they found it hard to accept that someone they followed and watched for years had made such a derogatory comment,” he says. “Initially they tried to justify the comments, but this was to their hero worship rather than because they agreed with what he said.”

What role does celebrity play in misogyny online?

James often worries about the role celebrities play in shaping the attitudes of the teenage boys who admire and follow them. “It’s fairly easy to discuss why something is inappropriate when it’s a big media story,” he says.

“But what’s more concerning to me is the number of celebrities who use the internet to regularly make more ‘minor’ (in the eyes of the media) comments that aren’t picked up or discussed in mainstream media.

“The statements are designed to be funny or banter, but they’re sexist and bullying behaviour. This drip, drip of sexism tends to be brushed over by the media in favour or more shocking or controversial stories that drive clicks.”

A logo that reads 'The Online Together Project' on a speech bubble with a winky face and a face with love hearts for eyes to represent the quizzes that tackle online hate like misogyny and break down gender stereotypes.

Use this interactive quiz to help children understand gender stereotypes and tackle misogyny online, creating more positive communities.

SEE QUIZ

Image of father of teen boys and teacher, James Coomber of Wiltshire.

James Coomber is a teacher who lives in Wiltshire with his wife and their two sons, aged 13 and 15.

How can you challenge acceptance of misogynistic views?

Both boys are keen users of social media, and James encourages them to never take statements that look like facts at face value.

“It’s so easy to make statements online that look like facts, but I’ve lost count of the number of times one of my sons has told us something as fact, but when we ask where the information is from, it turns out to be TikTok! We always advise them to look up things on known websites such as BBC or other reputable news outlets rather than trusting social media sites.”

James says that the online environment can create a culture where teens see misogynistic behaviour as acceptable. “If it’s okay for celebrities and politicians to make these comments unchallenged in the media, then surely they must be acceptable for teenagers to make?”

As teenagers, the boys also worry about the growing negativity towards young men in the media and worry that online misogyny means men are tarred with the same brush, unfairly.

What can parents do to challenge misogyny?

In light of these challenges, James says he speaks regularly with his boys, and offers this advice to other parents:

  • If a comment is funny or provocative, invite teenagers to consider how they would feel if it was made towards a woman they know and like.
  • It’s important as men that we model the behaviour and respect towards women that we expect our sons to use, and we highlight positive male role models.
  • The car is a great place to have these conversations, because we have a captive audience!
  • Make sure to give time for everyone to give their opinions, rather than trying to impose your own views.
  • Be mindful of the many different news sources available to young people and how much their opinions are dictated by their peers. Parents need to keep an open mind and keep talking!

Digital image of a teen boy who looks worried as he holds his smartphone. Question mark icons are next to him.Find more guidance on tackling misogyny at home, online and in the classroom with our ‘What is misogyny?’ guides for parents and for teachers.

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