YOLO: Please be vigilant about Cyberbullying on the app YOLO.

YOLO is the most downloaded app in the UK and the US at time of writing. It has an age rating of 12+. Some cyberbullying cases locally on the app are becoming especially advanced in seriousness, and cyberbullying is known to be happening within groups of ‘friends’ on the app even with privacy settings set.

Parents need to be involved regularly with their child’s behaviour on the app.

The app is an anonymous Q and A tool that let’s users add an ‘ask me anything’ sticker to their Snapchat stories – or send an ‘ask me anything?’ post to a group of other users, making it appetising for chats between friends. While other image sharing apps like Instagram allow users to post questions to their stories these are not anonymous and so if you have maintained your privacy settings it is easier to identify where any negative comments are coming from. You cannot identify where any cyberbullying comments are coming from on YOLO which is making it a powerful tool for bullies.

Although it is part of Snapkit it wasn’t actually developed by Snapchat but by a French Start-up called Popshow. Its creator Gregoire Henrion said “It was not supposed to be a success. It was just for us to learn. It went 100% viral. We just literally put it in the store, people typed ‘YOLO’ into search, and the loop was so effective that the product caught on.” They also said “We feel that anonymity can unlock super good behaviours.” Unfortunately, anonymity provides no protection for children who are attacked on the app and it is difficult to see how the app are meeting their duty of care to these children at this stage. There is a pop up box to discourage bullying but no means of enforcing it.

If your children are using the app please speak to them regularly about not only whether they are experiencing negativity on the app. Take every opportunity to encourage them to protect other users by talking to you if they have concerns about the treatment of others on it and ask to see content they are engaging with on the app regularly. Take every opportunity to encourage them to treat others kindly online at all times and to increase accountability around this. Importantly, please encourage them to screenshot any abusive posts to protect themselves and more vulnerable users.

If your child experiences attacks on the app please

1. Screenshot
2. Disable the app if the attacks are serious but do not delete it in case anything on the account is needed as evidence
3. If the attacks are serious please contact the police on 101 as some incidents have reached a level which justifies police involvement
4. Speak to your child’s school about it so the school is aware
5. If your child needs support ask the school to contact us/respect me/another child protection organisation