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.
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
When signing up, users must enter their birthday. If it shows they are under 13 years of age, they receive the following screen:
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.
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.
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.
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
See our step-by-step guide to help you review and set privacy controls with your teen on Yubo.
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 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.”
More to explore
See more articles and resources to help keep children safe online.