Wednesday 26 July 2017

Police warn schools that 'Tinder for teens' app Yellow could be used by sex offenders

Yellow app
Yellow app
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

An app which has been labelled as a Tinder for teens has come under fire as police have warned that it could be used by sex offenders to target children.

Yellow, which is available to download for free on the iPhone and Android, describes itself as the "easy and free way to make new friends".

The easy to access application uses swipe controls that are identical to that of the dating app Tinder.

Users are invited to swipe 'left to pass' and 'right to like' photo profiles of other Yellow users. If they match (both swipe right) the children can exchange messages and photos with each other.

Police in the UK have recently alerted local schools to concerns they have over child safety on the app.

Meanwhile, the ISPCC has expressed concern about apps or games that encourage children to share personal information.

"There are many great, fun and educational apps available that provide a wealth of great experiences for children and young people," Director of Services Caroline O’Sullivan told independent.ie.

While Yellow guidelines do not allow users under the age of 13 - and recommends that teens must have parental permission to create a profile - users do not have to verify their age before using the service

This has raised concerns that the service could be exploited by adults pretending to be children.

"The ISPCC has long called for age verification on certain apps," said Ms O'Sullivan.

"There are a number of troubling issues that can arise from children using apps where an adult can also gain access including online grooming. We are also concerned about the content which can be shared on certain networks and would urge children and young people to remember that sharing information can leave a digital footprint and can often be manipulated."

After online safety groups raised concerns when Yellow was launched, the app updated its security settings so that users must have a profile picture - and those who attempt to change their date of birth after signing up must send in proof of ID to verify the change.

Profile pictures that do not contain faces are now also banned from the app.

“The ISPCC’s advice is that parents should be vigilant in terms of their children and their young people’s access to the internet, smartphones and apps. If parents choose to give their child a device that has an internet connection then they have a responsibility to outline safe use and have boundaries in place regarding the length of time, types of sites etc. that the children can use the device for,” said Ms O'Sullivan.

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