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'Tinder For Teenagers' App Accused Of Enabling Sexual Predators

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Illustration by Mallory Heyer
A popular app dubbed "Tinder for teenagers" could be putting young people at risk by enabling sex predators to target them, children's charity the NSPCC has warned.

Like Tinder, Yellow allows young people to connect with each other by swiping right on their profile pictures, and they can then connect on Snapchat if they mutually "like" each other.

Yellow is the second most popular free app on the Apple app store in the UK after Tinder and claims to have have five million users. The app maintains that it is used for making friends.

However, the NSPCC warned that Yellow could be being used by people with dangerous intentions.

The app's settings make it relatively easy for sexual predators to contact young people, according to The Times.

A reporter for the newspaper was able to sign up for the app using his real name, age and photograph and said he was a boy "looking for girls". While he wasn't initially able to see users who were under 18, he was able to do so by merely changing his date of birth.

The app has no measures to verify a user's age or profile picture and he was free to view the profiles of underage teenage girls – many as young as 13 or 14 – and to potentially contact them.

“Yellow’s settings that enable adults to view children, through a service blatantly aimed at flirting and relationships, create an opportunity for sexual predators to target young people," said a spokesman for the NSPCC.

The charity is calling for age verification measures in the Digital Economy Bill that will stop under-18s from accessing porn websites to be extended to cover social networking platforms.

He added: "This would mean adults would not be able to pose as children or vice versa, and any operator that failed to comply could face fines or be blocked from operating in the UK,” The Times reported.

Yellow's developers said they would change the app's settings to prevent people who sign up as adults from changing their dates of birth to view children's profiles. From now on they will have to provide ID when changing their age.

The app still won't ask for proof of age when users sign up, however. “Like other social networks we are not asking for proof of ID to sign up,” a Yellow spokesman told The Times. “We are looking for the best compromise between privacy and users’ security.

“Yellow is a virtual social network and not a location-based dating app. Underage users cannot discover people over 18 and vice versa. In any case, users can only chat with text messages – it’s not possible to send pictures within Yellow."

He added that there are measures in place enabling users to report fake-looking profiles.

Tinder has had similar problems when it comes to checking how old its users are and ensuring the safety of children under the age of consent.

The app previously allowed anyone over 13 to join but wouldn't allow over 18s to see their profiles, or vice versa, but it raised its minimum age to 18 this summer after charities said the checks weren't sufficient and that paedophiles were using it to groom children.
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