For many years, children and teenagers have been told to ‘think before you post’. But, in a world where our online and offline lives are more blurred than ever and we’re all a lot more relaxed about sharing our personal information, is this still a realistic message?
“It’s more important than ever to be careful about what you share in your digital spaces,” says Annie Mullins OBE, who advises us on safety issues at Yubo. “It can be very easy to get caught up in a conversation with someone on social media and think it’s OK to tell them where you live, where you go to college, your phone number or your email address.”
“Our advice for young people is to put the brakes on and take a moment before sharing this kind of personal information with someone you’ve only chatted to a few times online,” she adds. “It’s often best to err on the side of caution and keep certain personal details to yourself.”
Here at Yubo, we’re committed to helping our users have the best possible experience on the app. That’s why we’ve started asking young people if they are sure they want to share their personal details. We’ve recently introduced a feature in private chat that triggers a pop-up when someone types in a phrase such as ‘I live in London’ and then gives them the opportunity to change their mind about posting it.
Of course, many young people are aware that their data is valuable but, when they feel like they’re talking to someone they trust, they sometimes forget that it could be misused. Even broad information, such as the name of your city or town, could be used to find out your address, places you hang out and who your friends and family are. If you have public profiles on lots of social networks, your digital footprint could provide strangers with valuable information that could be used to coerce you into doing something you don’t want to do.
Still in the early stages, our new pop-up feature is already showing great results: we send around 20,000 pop-ups every day and 12% of our users who see these alerts decide not to send their personal information. The tool uses an algorithm to further enhance our portfolio of innovative safety tools. For example, we also use AI to conduct age checks and we intervene in real-time during live streams when we think someone could be putting themselves or others in danger.
“We try to strike the right balance between encouraging participation and providing protection for the many young people in our community,” says our COO Marc-Antoine Durand. “This new pop-up is a great example of how we help teens to make smart choices. This is about encouraging them to be more cautious and to take control of their digital footprint.”
As we enter the new decade, we’re seeing a greater focus across industry on putting safety at the heart of app and website development and empowering users to better manage their online experience. Australia’s eSafety Commissioner has recently introduced a ‘Safety by Design’ initiative, for example. With more than 25 million members all over the world, we will continue to focus on making Yubo a safe space for young people to make new friends – in 2020 and beyond.
Visit the Yubo Safety Center for more information and advice.