Yubo, which was previously known as Yellow, is a free-to-download mobile phone app, and describes itself as “a social app to meet new friends and have fun with them”.
Just like adult dating app Tinder, Yubo allows user to connect with others based on their location.
Users can swipe left or right to accept or decline an invitation to chat. If there’s a match, they can exchange messages, photos and video chats with them and even add them as a friend on Snapchat or follow them on Instagram. Even if they don’t know each other.
What’s more, is the app also syncs with Snapchat, meaning users can livestream themselves to anyone watching.
It is growing in popularity among school-age teens who use it to chat and send pictures to friends and strangers.
With over 15 million users, the app is one of the most popular among teenagers and pre-teens and is available for both Apple and Android smartphones.
However there is increasing concern about the lack of safety features on the app. Parents are being advised to talk to their children about the potential risks of using Yubo and about the dangers of sharing too much with a potential stranger.
Police in several areas of the UK have alerted schools to concerns they have over child safety on the app, while the NSPCC has also shared a warning.
Despite being required to be over 13 to register and use Yubo, there is no way to verify your age when you sign up. This means a child below this age can return to the registration page and input a false age.
There are no privacy setting options and no way to block users meaning people can see all of the personal information that you post on your account.
Although location sharing can be turned off, to find nearby friends it needs to be switched on. By enabling location sharing, this will be shown to any other potential “friends” who view the account, along with the users age.
There is also a lack of content control, meaning anyone can sign up and post inappropriate content viewable to younger users.
Those who register as over the age of 18 are blocked from contacting younger users, however the app does not verify ages upon sign-up, leading to fears that it could be exploited by those seeking to target children.
Following concerns raised by online safety groups after the app was launched last year, Yubo has updated some of its security settings so that users who attempt to change their date of birth after signing up now have to send proof of ID to the app in order to verify the change.
Profile pictures that do not contain faces are now also banned from the app.
A spokesperson for the NSPCC added: “Any app that allows strangers to send photos to children or vice versa is troubling – particularly where the images being exchanged are of a sexual nature.
“Yubo’s settings that enable adults to view children, through a service blatantly aimed at flirting and relationships, also creates an opportunity for sexual predators to target young people. This needs to be urgently addressed.
“We want age verification measures in the Digital Economy Bill that will stop under-18s accessing porn websites to be extended to cover social networking platforms.
“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.
“We would urge parents to have a conversation with their children so that they know how to stay safe online.”