A new DCU study has shown that teenagers using social networking app Yubo are sharing content through secondary profiles such as Instagram and Snapchat, jeopardising their privacy and leaving themselves vulnerable.
The study, An observation and analysis of profiles among adolescents on the Yellow (now Yubo) application, sought to understand four things; 1) the age and gender of Irish teenagers using the app, 2) the extent to which they were using sexualised images on their profiles, 3) the sharing of personal information and 4) emoji use among Irish adolescents.
With regards age and gender profiles, the split between male and female was quite even, 54% male to 46% female. 60% were between the ages of 13 and 16, 40% were 16 or 17.
Sexually suggestive or sexualised images on profiles were very rare. Yubo itself has a very strict policy on such imagery and once flagged, it is removed and users can have their accounts temporarily suspended.
Yubo users can share their username or snapcode in their bio or on profile pictures (though due to recent changes on the app, they can no longer connect their Instagram or Snapchat accounts). The research found that 80% of users had public Instagram profiles, while 7% of users shared their Snapchat details publically (before matching). Growing concerns about privacy and disclosure online that prompted this study have been borne out in the results. A large number of the users on the app appear to mitigate their own privacy risks in favour of creating new online friendships.
The app encourages users to describe themselves using emojis. 65% of the profiles in this study contained emojis and half of the eight most frequently used emojis were catagorised as having a sexual meaning.
Liam Challenor, Doctoral researcher at the National Anti-Bullying Centre at DCU said “Yubo is an app that has become increasingly popular among young teenagers here in Ireland. Our research, the first into usage of this app, identified 15 year olds as the most prevalent users of Yubo and represented almost one third of the overall sample. We also found that this age group engaged in more ‘risky’ behaviours on the app than other ages.
While Yubo is making strides to make the platform safer for teenagers, it’s important that parents and teachers are aware of how the app works and what sort of activity is going on on it.”
What is Yubo?
Launched in 2015, Yubo (formerly Yellow) is a location-based social networking app for teenagers, where they can connect with new friends by swiping left on a user’s profile (much like Tinder). It allows for the live streaming of video and chat, both one-on-one and to groups.
It now has over 15 million users who send in excess of 3 million messages per day. It has raised concerns with both parents and educators because of its potential to link and create friendships with strangers.