As a platform that’s all about helping young people make meaningful connections, we focus on the safety of our community every day. So, we’re always proud to support #SaferInternetDay, the annual global online safety event, which takes place today (9 February).
Over the last few years, we’ve introduced a number of industry-leading safety measures to help protect, support and educate young users on Yubo. This includes real-time intervention where we use a combination of AI algorithms and human moderators to monitor activity and take action when our Community Guidelines are broken. We don’t allow nudity on Yubo, for example – if someone breaks this rule, we send a message asking them to change their behaviour or we’ll close the livestream and/or suspend their account.
We also encourage our young users to think twice before sharing personal details in private chat. If someone types a phrase such as ‘I live in…’ or ‘My phone number is…’, this triggers a pop-up alert giving them the opportunity to delete the message or send it anyway. Today, we’re introducing a new safety feature – if any of our users attempt to make inappropriate requests in private chat, we’ll caution them by sending a pop-up alert and we’ll block that content from being shared.
Risk-taking and vulnerability
Why is it so important that we pre-empt possible risks on Yubo? During adolescence, there’s a lot of potential for young people to learn new things but the part of the brain that helps them to make decisions and consider the consequences of those decisions is not yet fully developed. At the same time, they might come under pressure from their peers to behave in a certain way and take risks.
To help combat this, we educate our young users and give them the opportunity to think carefully about sharing content or personal information and change their mind if they do have second thoughts. We support their freedom of expression but it’s also important to help keep them safer.
As our safety advisor Annie Mullins OBE says, “Young people make mistakes – that’s part of growing up – but it’s important that social media providers offer safety nets for them and nudge them in the right direction when their behaviour could put them at risk. The focus should be on promoting digital resilience and wellbeing.”
The right to privacy and safety
If we look at the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), we see that young people have the right to privacy and the right to express their views. But they also have the right to protection from discrimination, violence, sexual abuse and other forms of exploitation. These rights apply online as well as offline, of course. In a recent blog, Professor Sonia Livingstone of the LSE described the adoption of a General Comment on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child as a “game changer”.
Striking the balance between privacy and safety is certainly one of the main challenges for tech companies and regulators. The need for privacy must be weighed up against the risk of digital crimes against young people, such as identity theft, hate speech and child sexual abuse. Here at Yubo, we ask all new users to read and accept our Community Guidelines and we’re as transparent as possible about how we monitor and moderate content on our platform (without undermining the safeguards we have in place).
Steadfast in our safety commitments
In 2020, we were part of industry efforts to introduce a harmonised regulatory approach to e-privacy in the EU (where Yubo is based). We believe that putting all the focus on user privacy might have unintended consequences and could put children at greater risk from sexual exploitation. Together with Google, Linkedin, Microsoft and Roblox, we announced that Yubo would remain “steadfast in honouring our safety commitments that European – and, indeed, users around the world – expect and rely upon.”
Our position was welcomed by many, including the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).
NCMEC President and CEO John Clark said, “We commend Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Roblox, and Yubo which have publicly committed to continuing their proactive efforts to detect child sexual exploitation even while the EU deliberates next steps.”
“We wholeheartedly applaud the stance taken by these companies who are really going the extra mile to protect children,” commented Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of the IWF. “Keeping children safe on, and offline, has to be everyone’s priority, and we must never lose sight of this.”
Protecting young people in the COVID era
Today’s Safer Internet Day theme of ‘Together for a better internet’ reminds us of the vital role Yubo plays in the digital safety ecosystem. Working closely with other stakeholders – as a member of the Technology Coalition and supporter of Project Protect, for example – is a key part of this.
With more than 45 million users and our livestream usage increasing by 550% globally in 2020, we have a responsibility to continue educating young people about responsible and safe online behaviour. It’s a role we take very seriously, especially as digital spaces have become even more of a lifeline while they have been at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
As our COO Marc-Antoine Durand says, “Now more than ever, this generation needs a space to safely connect with like-minded people and experience social interaction online, when they are unable to do so in real life… it is our responsibility as a business to ensure that they are protected and educated on how to behave responsibly online, not just on Yubo, but on any social media or online forum.”
Visit the #SaferInternetDay website to find out how you can get involved.