Aren’t we all tired of Instagram’s perfect pictures, people, bodies? Yes, we are, and yet, at the same time, let’s be honest, we’re not truly. The real problem is that we can’t stop using Instagram because no one else offered us a new and improved version of what we see as the main social media platform today. Or what if it had been there all along, but we just missed it until now?
Yubo, previously called Yellow, is the Paris-based live video platform created with new gen users in mind that favours sociability, sharing and authenticity over the typical validation mechanisms and ‘influencer culture’ that we’ve grown accustomed to on other platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook or even Twitter. Could Yubo be the next big social media platform?
Only time will tell, but things are looking pretty good for Yubo. Only last week, the live video platform raised more than £9 million. So how exactly does it work, and what makes it any different from Instagram and other social media platforms? Once you’ve downloaded the app and set a profile up, Yubo is pretty simple to use and quite similar to other social media apps. You add new friends (or old ones), either chat with them one-on-one or in group chats or share what you’re doing in real-time using live video streaming. The app asks its users to create a profile with “personal information, including your real name, mobile number and a photo that shows your face.”
A typical Yubo profile includes a profile picture, a biography where users describe themselves, links to their Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter accounts and a selection of five emojis that they would use to “describe themselves.” Users can then go on ‘Yubo meet-ups’ with whoever they connected with on the app. On the App Store, Yubo’s product description clearly states “SWIPE: meet new people nearby and from all over the world in a very easy way.” The app’s developers clearly didn’t weigh the pros and cons of using the word ‘swipe’ for a social media platform aimed at teenagers.
The app’s live video feature is the one that makes it so special but, although it’s highly praised by gen Zers, it also received a lot of bad press from the likes of The Daily Post and The Sun, who called the app “Tinder for teens.” Starting in 2018 and up until today, Yubo has been surrounded by controversy concerning its safety and the safety of its users, mostly teenagers. On its website, the app reasons that although Yubo is “a great place for young people to connect with friends,” as we know, “with any social network, things can sometimes go wrong.”
To help tackle this unsolvable problem, Yubo provides a number of safety features, including technical tools, human moderators and a reporting feature. It aims to respond within 24 hours to reports of the app’s community guidelines being broken—whether it does so or not is an entirely different question. And yet, if you Google ‘Yubo app’, the first results that come up are videos titled “Yubo is DANGEROUS (+ r/CreepyPMs)” and “DATING APP FOR CHILDREN?!?!?! WE NEED TO STOP Yubo,” against someone else’s opinion titled “yubo, definitely not a dating app.”
It is clear that the polemic is still very much there, but with approximately more than 20 million users worldwide, it doesn’t seem to stop Yubo from growing. The next obvious question is how is the app making money? It’s simple, by offering Yubo users an in-app purchase, the ‘Yubo Power Pack’ that allows them to ‘Boost’ their live video, ‘Turbo’ their profile, and ‘Super Request’ friends.
Boosting a live will push it to the top of the live feed, making it more visible to users and bringing more people to watch it. Using a Turbo will boost a user’s profile on the Swipe feature for 30 minutes, giving the profile more visibility and attracting more potential friends. To finish it off, a Super Request to friend request someone will make it appear at the top of the other person’s requests, giving more visibility to the user’s request. For many, these paid-for features sound very similar to the ones available for purchase on dating apps like Tinder.
So, is Yubo a dating app for teens? Technically, no, it is a social media app, and like many previous ones it is here to facilitate meeting like-minded people online. The bad rep the app has received seems unfair since any social media platform should be accused of exactly the same problem. Apps like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Yubo all present safety problems that unfortunately come with the many positives that our digital world offers. The next step is figuring out a way of making it safer for new gens. Who will be the first one to tackle this issue is yet to be answered.