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August 03, 2022

Yubo to Become First Major Social Media App to Verify All Users' Ages

Yubo, a social live streaming app for young people, has adopted an innovative age-verification technology that will safeguard its 60+ million users, expanding its extensive safety practices. This technology checks whether users are the age they say they are when they sign up to use the app and helps to ensure users are interacting only with those in a similar age group. According to TechCrunch, Yubo has launched its age-verification feature in a beta stage for users aged 13 and 14 and aims to verify the ages of all users by the end of the year.

Yubo’s Safety Initiatives

Yubo has worked closely with a variety of safety experts, governments, charities, and other organizations to build consistent features and initiatives designed to improve the safety of its users. Additionally, Yubo has created a safety advisory board of international experts – people whose sole responsibility is to provide guidance and inform the company’s future-facing social media safety strategy. This group includes the following individuals:

  • Annie Mullins OBE – Safety Advisor, Yubo (formerly Vodafone (News - Alert) and Yahoo!)
  • John Shehan – Vice President, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) 
  • Alex Holmes – Deputy CEO, The Diana Award
  • Travis Bright – Product Director,  Thorn
  • Mick Moran – Garda Liaison Officer, Paris (formerly Deputy Director, INTERPOL)
  • Dr. Richard Graham (News - Alert) – Consultant, Child, and Adolescent Psychiatrist, and Clinical Director, Good Thinking
  • Anne Collier – Founder, Family Net News, and Executive Director, The Net Safety Collaborative (TNSC)

The introduction of this age-verification technology is simply the latest in a consistent and extensive rollout of safety-focused initiatives executed by Yubo.

Real-time artificial intelligence and human moderators for live streams

Yubo is the first platform in the world to perform real-time intervention in live streams, expanding its ability to identify users who break its Community Guidelines or put themselves at risk. High-tech artificial intelligence (AI) filters screen live streams by taking screenshots every second and reporting inappropriate content to human moderators. Yubo has defined examples of inappropriate content as those featuring nudity (either full or partial, including underwear) or anything suggestive in nature; depicting drug use; or promoting violence, weapons, or blood. Yubo states, “We’re proud to be the first social platform to introduce real-time interventions in live streams that encourage behavioral change … .”

Prompts to provide an additional layer of security during communications

Educational prompts on safe and responsible online activity appear as pop-up notifications and alerts on the app when users participate in potentially harmful or inappropriate behaviors. These prompts remind users of the risks involved with these types of behaviors.

Settings to allow users to restrict certain content they receive and view

The Muted Words feature encourages users to block words, phrases, or emojis that trigger or upset them. They can block them in their entirety or allow content that features them from friends only. This way, users can control the content they see and who they interact with.

Furthermore, users are offered block-and-report features that allow “teenagers [and] family members [to] report any concerns to [a] team of safety experts 24/7 and get a fast response (e.g., within minutes for user reports about live [streams] and within 24 hours for submissions through [an] online form).”

Community guidelines to help users navigate the app safely

Yubo has developed a detailed set of Community Guidelines that users are to accept and follow while engaging with the app. The company asks all users to respect one another and makes it clear that users should not intimidate, threaten, or harass anyone. These guidelines also address nudity, violence, hate speech, and other important topics with the intent of keeping the community friendly, safe, and inclusive. Every new user must agree to abide by these rules in order to use the platform.

Yoti’s Industry-Leading Age Verification Technology

Most recently, Yubo has teamed up with the digital identity company Yoti to conceptualize and integrate its revolutionary age-verification feature. Yoti makes it possible for organizations of all kinds to verify users’ identities and trusted age credentials. Its technologies enable age and identity verification, access management, authentication, and electronic document signing.

Yoti continually works to hone its privacy-preserving technology, which boasts an ever-increasing accuracy rate. Currently, the age-verification technology can confirm whether a user is above or below an age threshold with 98.9% precision across all ages, genders, and skin tones. The technology can estimate the ages of users between 6 and 12 within 1.3 years and users between 13 and 19 within 1.5 years. iBeta, the gold standard in authentication technologies, has also certified its liveness detection technology.

Yubo and Yoti have worked together since 2019 when Yubo became the first social media app to integrate Yoti’s privacy-focused technology to verify suspicious accounts. Their latest collaboration adds a layer of age confirmation to the platform as Yubo makes ID verification accessible across the app to help separate minors and adults, overcoming one of the biggest current online safety challenges.

Marc-Antoine Durand, COO at Yubo, comments, “We’ve selected Yoti’s age-estimation technology, YAS [Yoti Age Scan], to give us a simple, private, and secure way to make the app safe for our users, a vital step to help safeguard young people online. We are excited to develop a partnership with Yoti and use [its] identity-verification technology to further enhance the safety of our platform for our users.”

How Age-Verification Technology Works

Yubo’s age-verification technology respects users’ privacy and doesn’t require them to enter any personal details or send documents before they receive their age estimate. Instead, users take a real-time photo of themselves in the Yubo app, and the age estimation technology processes this image and verifies their age. This way, Yubo can separate users into age groups and enable wide scalability. Yoti’s passive liveness algorithm also takes a short video during the process to make sure the user is taking a real photo and is not using a screenshot, Google (News - Alert) image, or other spoofing tools. If the age estimation technology flags a user’s age as inconsistent with the age registered upon signup, the user will have to verify their identity through additional processes before accessing the app.

Yubo is not the only social media app relying on Yoti’s technology. Instagram recently announced that it will introduce new ways for users to verify their age. The company’s recent announcement explains that it is “testing new options for people …  to verify their age, starting with people based in the U.S. If someone attempts to edit their date of birth on Instagram from under the age of 18 to 18 or over, [the app will] require them to verify their age using one of three options: upload their ID, record a video selfie, or ask mutual friends to verify their age. [Instagram is] testing this so [it] can make sure teens and adults are in the right experience for their age group.”

Similar to Yubo, Instagram is also working “with international youth, privacy, and safety experts to inform [its] approach.” The introduction of such safety measures will transform the user experience, providing a sense of security that has been lost in recent years. Yubo, however, is taking a much more proactive approach compared to its competitor. While Instagram is rolling out the safety concepts in the United States only, Yubo plans to have all current and new users verified by the end of the year.

A Lifelong Commitment to Safety

As technology continues to transform the way we interact, and as future generations come to rely more and more on digital communication, social apps have a certain responsibility to protect the people using their platforms. While no app is perfect, Yubo continues to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to safety. This commitment includes a full range of tools that seeks to vet new users, ensure they are properly categorized according to age, prevent inappropriate content from being shared, monitor and report potentially harmful behavior, and create a meaningful and safe experience for all users around the world. It has put safety at center of its innovation.

The Yubo team shares, “Safety has always been a key focus here…. As the leading platform for young people to socialize online, we have a special responsibility to our users. [And our] whole team is committed to protecting, supporting, and educating young people and building a digital space that they – and you – can trust.”

About Yubo

Yubo is a social media app designed for young people, providing them a safe space to chat, live stream, play games, discover, and enjoy a sense of belonging. The app allows users to connect safely with others around the world as authentically as they would in real life, without any pressure of “likes” or “follows.” With this new age-verification feature, users no longer have to worry about meeting those pretending to be in their age bracket. Yubo has created a virtual space where all young people can hang out and simply be themselves. Since starting up in 2015, Yubo has attracted more than 60 million users across 40 countries who enjoy the socially inspiring space.

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