Millions of children and teenagers in more than 150 countries celebrate Safer Internet Day and explore whether they feel free to be themselves online. How do they manage their identity in the digital world? Can they express themselves freely? Do other young people support them on social media?
The ‘together for a better internet’ and #freetobe themes of SID2020 got us thinking. Here at Yubo, we strongly believe that your online identity should reflect who you are. We ask our users for real information and a photo when they set up their profile and we don’t allow them to be anonymous. After all, when you meet someone in real life, they see your face – we think it should be the same in our app.
After registration on Yubo, you will receive an alert that requests you to upload a profile picture. It is required to access all the App features. They can either add a photo from their camera roll or take a selfie. This helps young people to be more accountable for their online identity as they can’t pretend to be someone they’re not. And it means we can identify underage and fake profiles more easily and take action against any inappropriate content or behaviour.
Just over a year ago, we teamed up with the digital identity experts at Yoti to make the Yubo community even safer. We use the Yoti Age Scan tool, which is powered by artificial intelligence technology, to estimate a user’s age based on their profile picture and flag accounts to us for review where there are any doubts. Users with flagged accounts can use the free Yoti app to verify their age, name and identity and get a yellow ‘verified profile’ tick on Yubo. In the first few months of using Yoti Age Scan, we removed more than 30,000 age-inappropriate profiles.
Of course, identity is about much more than your name, your age and your profile pic. As a recent Wired article put it, “Teens are forming their identities, experimenting with and exposing themselves to all sorts of new experiences on their journey to adulthood.” For millions of teenagers, Yubo provides a platform to explore who they are – a trusted community where they can share interests and make new friends.
As a report by Pew Research Center notes, US teens regard social media as “a key tool for connecting and maintaining relationships, being creative and learning more about the world”. A study by Ofcom recently revealed the power of social media to spark activism – almost a fifth of 12 to 15-year-olds in the UK use it to show their support for causes they feel strongly about (the so-called ‘Greta effect’).
By making Yubo as transparent and accountable as possible, we’re giving under-18s a community that values freedom of speech but also puts their safety first. On Safer Internet Day (and, indeed, every other day of the year), our message to young people is simple:
Be true to yourself. Offer positive encouragement to others. Stay in control.