As the Covid-19 pandemic subsides and restrictions are gradually lifted around the world, people are understandably anxious to return to normal, which means a return to socializing with old friends, and even with new acquaintances, online and in person. But doing so is easier said than done, and often fraught with issues of safety – especially when meeting people for the first time. Online platforms that facilitate meetings of this sort have a particular responsibility of care to protect their users from harmful, inappropriate,or even illegalactivity. In this article we’ll look at the measures taken by the France-based social networking app Yubo to prioritize the safety of its users. Yubo safety measures are not perfect, but they can serve as a model for other similar apps, allowing the app’s users to make new friends in a safe, inclusive space.
An app for meeting like-minded users
The human urge to socialize is as old as time itself, but we have had to repress it these past few years, as pandemic-related restrictions have kept us apart from our friends and family for unusually long periods of time. Unwilling to wait for this “new normal” to end, younger generations have turned to their smartphones to meet new people and hang out online in their spare time.
This has led to a boom in social networking apps like France-based Yubo, which allows its users to identify and interact with contacts based on their shared interests, by swiping and instant messaging one another, and even taking part in livestreams with up to ten friends at a time. Yubo aims to provide young people with an online platform in which to meet up and partake in the group activities which they would do together offline under normal circumstances: cooking, karaoke, playing cards and word games – you name it! And as the pandemic subsides, Yubo users will be able to use the app to connect with like-minded friends and meet up in person too.
As one of the world’s most popular platforms for young people to socialize online, Yubo takes its responsibility towards its users very seriously and,by its own admission, places safety at the centre of everything it does. The app’s industry-leading safety measures have already been adopted by similar apps– an undeniable mark of success – and work to ensure that the platform remains as safe, positive and inclusive an environment as possible.
Algorithms you can trust
Trust is important when making new friends, and that counts double with online interactions, which can be easily tarnished by the spectre of false identities and misleading profiles. This particular kind of deceit is well-known to regular internet users, and Yubo would surely never have made it past the proof-of-concept stage without addressing this glaring issue.
The app’s developers haverisen to the occasion, creating and implementing a series of tools, algorithms and AI innovations to make sure that the information provided by its users, and displayed on their profiles – their age, gender and appearance, among other things – is as accurate as possible.
Upon registration, users are required to upload a clear picture of their face, whose authenticity is checked and verified by bespoke face and age recognition algorithms. The sign-up process also detects and weeds out fake phone numbers, photos lifted from Google Images, and multiple accounts set up from the same device, nipping fraudulent accounts in the bud.
As an additional measure, the app’s algorithm picks up on any discrepancies between the age which users give upon registration, and the age which they provide in their profile’s biography or in exchanges with other users. This allows users to be accurately sorted into the platform’s “underage” (13 to 17) or “overage” (18+) communities, where they can make age-appropriate connections.
A strong safety framework
When it comes to the millions ofinteractions which take place on a daily basis on the platform, Yubo’s moderators have established a strict set of community rules to make sure thatthey occur in a respectful and mutually beneficial environment.
The platform’s cutting-edge algorithms can analyse every profile picture and piece of user content uploaded to the app in real time, looking for content which does not meet the community’s strict standards. They can even enable instantaneous intervention in livestreams – a feat which the app claims is a world first.
In addition, users can access the app’s reporting system at any time, to flag inappropriate content or profiles across the entire platform. These reports are then processed by Yubo’s moderation team, who are available 24/7 across all time zones.The app also sends out automatic pop-up alerts whenever a user is about to share private information, such as their phone number or location – limiting the potential for accidental, harmful leaks.
A comprehensive Safety Hub provides Yubo users with advice on safety issues such as cyberbullying, hate speech and peer pressure, as well as direct links to mental health resources covering all key topics.
Finally, Yubo’s management has stated that the app collaborates fully and proactively with local law enforcement authorities whenever user safety is at risk, and always respondsto data requests within 24 hours.
A Network of Safety Partners
Yubo has made great strides towards user safety on its own, thanks to the automation and moderation of its platform. But it is also seeking to learn more about the issue as it continues to grow. To do so, they have established a series of partnerships with associations that are dedicated to the issue of child safety, in order tomake the most of their expertise. The app’s Safety Board includes industry experts from a wide range of safety-focused institutions, including the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NcMEC), the influential anti-bullying Diana Award, and even Interpol.
In addition, the app regularly runs issues-led campaigns with its partners, teaming up with the Cyberbullying Research Center, Good Thinking, Switchboard, The Trevor Project, e-Enfance and many other leading NGOs. The platform has also worked in partnership with several national governments, in Australia, France and the UK among others, and isa member of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).
Meeting people can be tough, even at the best of times. But Yubo’s users can rest easy and enjoy themselves in their like-minded online communities – safe in the knowledge that the platform’s algorithms, moderators and community guidelines are working hard to keep them as secure as possible.