The Yubo-AFNOR Partnership Sparks a Coalition Focused on Mitigating Minors’ Online Safety Risks

In today’s digital landscape, national and global social networks continue to be popular online meeting platforms. This is especially true for the Gen Z cohort, composed of teens and young adults aged 13 to 25.

Along with unlimited chances for engagement, however, minors on the platform are at risk of being victimized by predators. Young users may also be subject to inappropriate content, harassment, verbal abuse, and even violence. Fortunately, the live social discovery app Yubo has taken numerous steps to make its platform as safe as it can possibly be.

To expand on these efforts, Yubo has been integral to the formation of a national coalition effort in France, where Yubo is headquartered, to identify and propose universal standards to reduce online user safety risks. The Paris-based company is partnering with the Association Française de Normalisation (or AFNOR) for this newly launched effort. AFNOR specializes in designing solutions built on sources of progress, voluntary standards, and trust.

The Yubo-AFNOR Partnership Takes Shape

On March 21, 2023, Yubo launched this notable undertaking by hosting an event at its corporate headquarters in Paris. AFNOR, a Paris-based standards industry leader, was also prominently featured at this landmark gathering.

Together, Yubo and AFNOR are leading a public-private sector coalition that seeks to formulate uniform standards to help mitigate minors’ online safety risks. This multi-organization alliance includes government leaders, respected NGOs, and leading technology firms and tech startups.

Executives from Yubo, Meta, ARCOM (the French Regulatory Authority for Audiovisual and Digital Communication), and CNIL (the French data protection authority) delivered keynote speeches.

A Collaborative Reference Document Guides Implementation

Under Yubo’s and AFNOR’s leadership, this multifaceted group will design and publish a much-needed reference document geared to social networks’ minor users. The document will spell out recommended moderation and prevention policies and methodologies designed to protect these young teenagers. Participants will develop the reference document during several working meetings. The group plans to publish the final version before the end of 2023.

Online Safety Leaders Applaud the Coalition’s Formation

With any large-scale collaborative program, each company’s leadership is key to achieving success. Executives from Yubo and other coalition members spoke about the significance of the ongoing effort.

Yubo’s Overarching Coalition Leadership

Sharone Franco, Yubo’s Head of Legal and Public Policy, emphasized how the reference document would provide a template for promoting young online users’ safety. “The goal is to build a toolbox that is useful for all companies by creating working groups that each focus on three individual themes: user trust, content detection and moderation, and prevention and education,” she concluded.

The E-Enfance Association’s Ongoing Training

The E-Enfance Association facilitates training on responsible Internet use and potential online risks. Samuel Comblez, E-Enfance’s Director of Operations, applauded Yubo’s leadership stance on achieving this complex goal. “We see a need to harmonize across these efforts to benefit the younger online population.

“We’ve worked closely with Yubo for a number of years as a result of their voluntary approach and their constant desire to protect their users by using the expertise of our association, and others similar to us. It’s a partnership that we highly value because of Yubo’s commitment to working quickly and efficiently,” he remarked.

Meta’s Essential Technical Expertise

Clotilde Briend, Meta’s Public Policy Manager for its French market, emphasized that solving the problem requires having “all the players around the table.” She noted that platforms, device fabricators, and telecommunications operators are integral to developing and implementing a solution. 

“Our view is that in order to have truly applicable and operational solutions for the online protection of young people in France, we must follow certain principles: harmony between the public and private sector, a combination of product design and technical solutions, and an understanding of how to work with parents,” Clotilde Briend emphasized.

About Yubo

Yubo is a rapidly growing live social discovery platform geared to the Gen Z demographic. From its 2015 inception, this innovative social media network has provided a platform for Gen Zers to establish online friendships with same-aged users from across the globe. Today, more than 60 million users in over 140 countries regularly socialize on the Yubo platform.

Yubo provides users with plenty of opportunities to engage via livestreams, chats, and games. Because user communities are separated by age, each user can connect with others who share common mindsets and interests.

Hands down, Yubo’s users view livestreams (or Yubo “Lives”) as the app’s most popular offering. Each Live consists of one to 10 people streaming simultaneously. However, there’s no limit to the number of viewers who can tune into a livestream. Live hosts may share good stories, display their talents, or simply talk about the day’s events. Users can select a Live based on language, country, or personal interests.

Yubo Stands Out from Other Social Media Platforms

Most social media networks rely on Likes and Follows, which encourages competition and can lead to feelings of inadequacy. In addition, these sites have a heavy emphasis on content feeds and advertising. As a result, users attempting to connect with friends or groups are bombarded by an endless stream of unwanted features.

Yubo is refreshingly different, as it doesn’t create pressure by emphasizing Likes and Follows. In addition, Yubo invites users to connect with others outside their immediate social circle. Besides offering exposure to many interesting people, this practice encourages authenticity in every interaction.

Yubo’s Industry-Leading User Safety Precautions

Since its 2015 inception, Yubo has prioritized user safety, especially for minors who frequently use the platform. In fact, Yubo is the first major social media app to age-verify 100 percent of its users before they can access the platform. The company is also the first major company in its industry to implement real-time moderation of audio on livestreams. Yubo also moderates images and videos on livestreams in real time.

100 Percent User Age Verification

In September 2022, Yubo became the first high-level social media app to require that 100 percent of users verify their ages before being permitted on the platform. Yubo’s Age Verification System helps to ensure that each user’s real age matches their claimed age. Once the match occurs, the user is placed in an age-gated community, an action designed to drastically limit adult-teen interactions.  

Age Verification is a Seamless Process

With Yubo’s Age Verification System, all users must verify their ages before being invited onto the platform. The process only takes a few minutes, and users are not required to produce approved documentation. This may be good news for younger users who don’t yet have their ID card.

First, each potential user takes a “live photo,” which is reviewed by the Yoti liveness algorithm. The technology is able to determine whether the images portray an actual human being instead of a Google image or screenshot.

Then the Yoti technology estimates the user’s age within a range using the live photo provided. Next, the algorithm checks whether the age the user entered matches the age estimated by the technology within a range. If the ages match, the user is given access to log into the Yubo platform. If not, they must provide official government identity documentation, such as an ID, to verify their are. Users who can’t provide an approved document are blocked from using the Yubo app.

Yubo is also very responsive to users’ privacy concerns. Yubo maintains a team of Safety Specialists who guarantee that the age verification sequence adheres to European data privacy laws with “privacy by design” protocols.

Real-Time Livestream Audio/Video Moderation

Yubo’s focus on online user safety is reflected in an industry-leading technological innovation. In 2022, the company became the first major social media app to deploy real-time livestream audio moderation, complementing real-time moderation of visuals on livestreams.

Yubo’s real-time moderation technology on livestreams is designed to detect any content or behavior that might violate Yubo’s Community Guidelines. If the technology detects a potential violation, a number of potential responses can occur, depending on the potential violation in question. Yubo can immediately message the user about the consequences of their action while explaining how to modify their behavior. Yubo Safety Specialists are notified of potential violations for reviews. Livestreams can be immediately shut down. 

Yubo’s skilled Safety Specialists are on duty around the clock around the world. A Safety Specialist may receive a report of Community Guidelines violations that, for example, a user is showing inappropriate or potentially risky behavior. The Safety Specialist immediately steps in to address the issue. Temporary or permanent bans are also on the table, along with escalation to local law enforcement, if appropriate.

Strong Emphasis on Positive Online Interactions

Yubo’s popular platform attracts global Gen Z users who like to chat, play games, and join livestreams. Yubo’s leadership and protocols aim to ensure that these interactions adhere to Community Guidelines and remain positive and respectful.

Toward this end, the company maintains a specialized Safety Team that assists users who feel others haven’t respected their boundaries or followed Community Guidelines. If a user submits a report, a team member works to quickly investigate the issue at hand. Yubo users have the ability to upload up to four images or videos with their reports, giving Yubo Safety Specialists greater context into the potential issue at hand.

The Yubo algorithm also remains on alert for users who post harmful words or who may be preparing to upload inappropriate or otherwise sensitive content. In this case, the algorithm contacts the user via a pop-up alert asking the user to rethink their choice. Experts say this technique may help to spur behavioral change.

Finally, Yubo users can control the content they see via the “Muted Words” feature. Each user can list words, phrases, and even emojis they want to avoid in messages or livestreams.

The Yubo Safety Board’s Expert Oversight

In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, Yubo has proactively asked online safety experts for assistance. Yubo’s

respected international Safety Board provides the company with expert ongoing guidance on user safety practices. The Safety Board members previously worked with recognized organizations such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, INTERPOL, and Thorn.

Annie Mullins OBE, Yubo’s Independent Safety Advisor, previously focused on online user protection while in executive roles at Yahoo! UK and Vodafone. She feels that Yubo has done an exceptional job in working toward online safety for users of all ages.

“Yubo has gone above and beyond to enhance the online experiences of Gen Z on its platform by proactively mitigating safety risks…Its rapid, full-scale deployment of sophisticated age-verification technology with Yoti is just the latest evidence of its unwavering commitment to online safety innovation,” Annie Mullins OBE said.

In mid-2023, the Yubo-AFNOR coalition continues its work on the online user safety reference document. By year-end, social media platforms across the globe should have access to these uniform guidelines promoting safe online experiences for social media users of all ages.

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