Spotafriend App Warning

Spotafriend App Warning


Northumbria Police have made us aware of a new App that has come to the surface, which looks at the potential grooming/exploitation of young people.

What is Spotafriend?

Spotafriend describes itself as: ‘Meet teens near you with Spotafriend, a tinder alternative for people ages 13-19. Get pictures of other teens around you, and swipe right to accept. If you both accept, you can chat privately through the app’

Concerns

  • Spotafriend’s creators describe the app as “the new way to make friends”.  However, if you explore the Spotafriend site,  you will quickly feel like you are on a teen dating site
  • To register for an account you must enter a username, password, email, gender, birthday, city and area they live in, or quick sign-up by using their Facebook account
  • Like Tinder, the app is location based - and works on a swiping basis to form matches.  Users engage with the app by swiping pictures of other teens nearby. They swipe right or click a green tick mark to become friends. They swipe left or click a red “X” to pass. If they both accept, a match is made and the two users can start chatting privately
  • Even if everyone using the app is 13-19, the age range is very wide. We would all agree a 13-year-old interacting privately with a 19-year-old adult is a significant concern – but this app makes these interactions easy to do, and enables perpetrators to more easily exploit young people
  • Despite the creator’s attempts to safeguard against misuse, app users can’t really be sure the people they are communicating with are who they say they are, or if they’re even other young people at all Any app that encourages young people to form connections with strangers is a concern
  • We all know the potential danger that exists when strangers interact with children and young people on the internet as nothing new, but moving from desktop computers to smartphones becomes harder for parents and carer’s to monitor.  Most apps that operate this way, lack effective security measures to keep predators and perpetrators, and those seeking to exploit children, away


Advice

  • Although Spotafriend claims to be more teen-friendly than other sites like Tinder, the only way you can really keep children safe is by asking to access their account and monitoring on a regular basis
  • Talk to young people on a regular basis about the dangers of online communication and using ‘hook up’ apps on their smartphones
  • Encourage young people to make new friends and build relationships at school, by participating in after-school sports and clubs, or by joining groups that offer clubs
  • If the types of apps that a young person uses becomes a problem, make sure you’re using a trust-worthy parental control that allows you to block these sorts of apps