The free flirting app known as Skout for iOS has come under fire after it was discovered that a third child was raped by a man posing as a teenager in the app's separate section for 13 to 17 year olds. That's bad news! Can you say you saw this coming?
The NY Times reports:
In one case, a 24-year-old man was accused of raping a 12-year-old girl in Escondido, Calif. In the second, a 15-year-old girl said she had been raped by a 37-year-old man she met using Skout. In the third, a 21-year-old man in Waukesha, Wis., is facing charges that he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old boy
Skout's users can swap photos and exchange virtual gifts, chat and connect with others using GPS.
"I'm disgusted by what's happened here," Christian Wiklund, Skout's founder, told the Times. "One case is too many. When you have three, it looks like a pattern. This is my worst fear."
Wiklund explained that the various safeguards in Skout is said to prevent the app from being used for any illicit behavior. The GPS feature is an opt-in, and there are a couple dozen staff monitoring the community for any inappropriate use or activity, such as this we reckon. They monitor photos for nudity and check chats for inappropriate sexual messages, profanity, spamming and copyright infringement and violent behavior. Sounds a lot actually.
Tens of thousands of devices are removed from the service each month, said the Times. Wiklund also said that upon hearing the rapes on local news he reached out to law enforcement to provide any help he could in the investigation.
While sad, the bigger question is whether or not apps like Skout can exist without any exploitation. Perhaps not, but they can definitely build more safeguards in it to make it a more secure and safe environment.