Social App Yubo Offers a Safe Space for Adolescents — The European Business Review
Live streaming app Yubo has become an increasingly popular social media platform for adolescents around the world. Launched in 2015, the app now has 60+ million users across 40 countries.
Yubo’s founders have implemented numerous safety features — and continue to introduce new ones — to fulfill the company’s goal of providing a safe space where everyone can feel like they belong. “It’s [Yubo’s] mission to socially inspire and enable a new generation [of users] to find out about the world and themselves.”
Here’s how has maintained a safe space for younger generations.
Yubo Safety Board Makes a Difference
Yubo has created a safety advisory board made up of international online safety experts who provide invaluable advice and inform its proactive strategy to protect adolescents. Members of the Yubo Safety Board include:
- Annie Mullins, OBE — Trust and Safety Advisor, Yubo (formerly with Vodafone and Yahoo!)
- John Shehan — Vice President, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
- Alex Holmes — Deputy CEO, The Diana Award
- Travis Bright — Product Director, Thorn
- Mick Moran — Former Deputy Director for Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation, INTERPOL
- Dr. Richard Graham — Consultant, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, and Clinical Director of Good Thinking
- Anne Collier — Founder of Family Net News; Executive Director, The Net Safety Collaborative (TNSC)
The board meets multiple times a year to review product features and to update safeguards already in place. Its goal is to keep all users — including adolescents — safe from the risks associated with digital communication and socializing online.
Yubo Invests in Age Verification Technology
To help protect younger users, Yubo has created a platform that consists of different communities. These communities are separated by age, ensuring younger users are interacting only with users who are close to their age.
To guarantee users join the appropriate community, Yubo has added new age verification technology , provided by digital identity company Yoti, to its existing ID verification processes. With this update, TechCrunch reports that Yubo will become the first major social media app to implement wide-scale verification across its user base. This technology will screen users and put them in the correct age group before they can enter the app and start socializing with others.
“When the face has been detected, the user will receive confirmation that they’ve been verified or they’ll be told if their age doesn’t match the age they entered upon signup or that they’re not using a legitimate picture.
“If the user’s age is confirmed, they’ll be directed to the homepage and can use Yubo as before. If verification fails, they’ll need to go through a full ID check instead.”
Prior to implementing this new system, Yubo required only users who had been flagged as suspicious to verify their age and identity through the Yoti app or through Yubo’s internal tools. By the end of 2022, users will now be required to complete the new verification process. What is unique about this update is that no identity documentation will be necessary to confirm a user’s age (unless the age doesn’t match), making it seamless and accessible for wide deployment across users, while also remaining privacy-friendly.
More specifically, it will democratize the age-verification process for minors. Yubo co-founder and CEO Sacha Lazimi explains that “a lot of teenagers do not have any identity documents.” The new software available from Yoti will help overcome this challenge.
In fact, Yubo is not the only social platform relying on Yoti’s age verification software. Instagram just announced it’s testing new options, including a new partnership with Yoti, for people to verify their age . The company explains that it uses “AI [artificial intelligence] to understand if someone is a teen or an adult. AI helps … prevent teens from accessing Facebook Dating, adults from messaging teens … and teens from receiving restricted ad content … Our goal is to expand the use of this technology more widely across our technologies.” Ultimately, Instagram has the same focus as Yubo — to provide age-appropriate experiences for its users.
However, the execution of integrating the technology looks quite different between the two. While Instagram is testing different age verification options, Yubo plans to fully integrate Yoti’s age verification, including verifying all current and prospective users, by the end of the year.
John Carr, online child safety consultant, comments, “ Regulators should take note of this new approach. Yubo [is] now showing how AI can be used to [determine whether] a person is in the right age band. For game sites and social media companies, there is now a new way to safeguard minors. This is a brilliant example of technology being used to help improve online safety, one that is on a fast track toward the mainstream.”
Yubo Protects Users’ Location
Yubo is also able to protect users’ location on the app, unlike other social media sites that rely on this information to improve their functionality. First, location services allow users to connect with other members of their local communities. Second, location information can be used for targeted advertising. Yubo and its safety board have recognized the dangers associated with location sharing and have implemented numerous software features to reduce the risk of adolescents sharing this information with strangers. Here’s what the company is doing:
- Users can change their profile settings by clicking the gear icon in the upper-right corner of their profile and selecting preferences. They can then choose “Hide my city” to keep their location private and not allow friends to use their mobile numbers to find them on Yubo.
- Educational safety features and personalized modification options are prominent on the app through pop-ups and alerts sent to users when they are participating in harmful and inappropriate behaviors or sharing sensitive personal information. If users are about to share where they live with other users, Yubo prompts them to rethink whether sending this personal information is a good idea.
- Furthermore, the app does not rely on advertisers for monetization, reducing the number of scams present on the platform and allowing the app to keep user data private. Instead, the app uses a ‘freemium’ business model that gives users the option to pay for in-app purchases and subscriptions ; e.g., to boost their live stream, promote their profile, or recommend content they have selected.
Yubo Monitors and Intervenes in Live Streams in Real-Time
One of the most popular features of Yubo is the ability to create live video discussion rooms where both streamers and viewers can interact via live chat. At every stage of the process, users can rely on the social platform’s safety features. Yubo has a team of in-house experts who constantly monitor profiles and live stream interactions among users to ensure they are not breaking Yubo’s extensive Community Guidelines. It is the first social app in the world to monitor and intervene in live streams in real-time.
“By using AI technology and human moderation, Yubo has created a system that maximizes its ability to detect when users are breaking the rules or putting themselves at risk. Advanced AI filters monitor each live stream by taking second-by-second screenshots and flagging inappropriate content for human moderators in 24/7 real-time. The technology screens for nudity and partial nudity, including underwear shots and suggestive content, as well as for drug usage, weapons, blood, and violence.”
In addition, Yubo encourages all users, regardless of age, to report inappropriate content or behavior, as well as any other concerns they have, so the company can investigate and take appropriate action. Users can rest assured that every violation is taken seriously and penalized accordingly.
Yubo Works with the Community to Protect Adolescents
To drive improvements in digital safety and wellbeing, Yubo works with governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), charities, and other institutions around the world.
In April 2020, Yubo announced a partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), an American NGO dedicated to the search for missing children. Yubo shares data with NCMEC in the event of “suspected illegal activity involving minors.” In return, NCMEC representatives serve on the social network’s Safety Board . Additionally, the app works closely with the Internet Watch Foundation (United Kingdom), Kids Helpline (Australia), National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) (United Kingdom), Point de Contact — INHOPE (France), and Thorn (United States).
Yubo also works with various governments. In Australia, Yubo is a member of the eSafety Commissioner’s Tier 1 social media scheme; in France, Yubo signed the Protocol for Child Protection against pornography; and in the United Kingdom, Yubo endorsed the “We Protect Voluntary Principles.”
In addition, Yubo is a board member of the Technology Coalition, alongside Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other tech leaders, and is a member of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). Lastly, it regularly runs issues-led campaigns on the platform by teaming up with the Cyberbullying Research Center, Good Thinking, Switchboard, The Diana Award, The Trevor Project, e-Enfance, and many other leading NGOs.
Yubo’s dedication to industry-leading safety features — including age verification and real-time intervention to create a safe social space for Gen Z to hang out together online — continues to grow and advance through partnerships like these.
Yubo: Committed to Innovation and Safety
Millions of young people all over the world have joined the Yubo community. Although the company has grown quickly, thanks in large part to Gen Z users and word of mouth, it remains committed to creating the best possible experience for all users — providing safeguards to protect young people online. Yubo’s unique combination of community guidelines, technical tools, human moderation, and other special features have been heralded by industry experts and continue to make it a safe place for adolescents.
Originally published at https://www.europeanbusinessreview.com on July 26, 2022.