It’s billed as an app that connects “friends” worldwide, but Yubo is doing more than attracting would-be pals.
“[The app] is a way to meet friends around the world that you wouldn’t normally have within your social network,” security expert John Sancenito said. “This app was started specifically to allow kids to meet up with strangers.”
It’s that stranger element, Sancenito says, that worries him both as an expert and a father.
“As parents, we always engrain in our kids not to talk to strangers,” he said. “This app allows kids to talk to strangers. In fact, that’s what its sole purpose is.”
It works like Tinder and encourages young kids to swipe right to connect with random people around the world, then take that connection to a private chat or a live stream.
The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office is highlighting the potential dangers with Yubo as part of its continued efforts on crime prevention.
In a statement to ABC 27 News, the Office said:
“We are a prosecutor’s office, but we are always working to expand crime-prevention efforts and this alert is a piece of that. We want parents to be informed and aware of the apps trending among young people, and Yubo is one of those apps. Anyone familiar with Tinder knows it can be host to hookups and provocative photos. Apply that model to an app targeting kids and it presents potential problems. Parents should check their child’s mobile devices and be aware of apps they are using.”
Ages and identities are not fully verified, and that is one reason Sancenito believes an involved, diligent parent is the best line of defense.
“At a very minimum I think parents need to talk to their kids, explain to them about the dangers of visiting these sites and with talking with strangers, and that not everybody is who they purport themselves to be,” he said. “Chances are that most parents are just completely oblivious to what their kids are doing online and that can be dangerous.”
Yubo was formerly called Yellow and looks very similar to the Snapchat icon. It is available through App Store and Google Play for free.