More than 1,500 complaints of unwanted sexual approaches have been made against random chat apps in the App Store. Many of these targeted children.
Random chat apps connect users randomly with strangers. The majority of the apps do not request users register with them. Lots of these apps have age restrictions of 17+. Minors can still access them, however.
Random chat apps in the App Store
An investigation by the Washington Post challenges Apple’s assertions that the App Store is a “safe and trusted place.” The newspaper used machine learning algorithms to scour App Store reviews for mentions of unwanted sexual content, racism, and bullying within random chat apps. This involved looking at more than 130,000 reviews for six random chat apps. The Post manually inspected the 1,500+ reviews which mentioned sexual situations.
The apps looked at as part of the report include Monkey, Yubo, ChatLive, Chat for Strangers, Skout, and Holla. According to the report, 19% of reviews for ChatLive make mention of unwanted sexual approaches.
“A man who is sick in the head and disgusting decided to show some things that shouldn’t have been shown,” read one review of the app Monkey. Another review from October noted that: “This is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Predators are all over this site.”
Apple’s approval process
Apple has said that it “carefully [reviews] every app” submitted. The company reviews around 100,000 apps per week with a combination of software and human curators.
“We created the App Store to be a safe and trusted place for our customers to get apps and we take all reports of inappropriate or illegal contact extremely seriously,” Apple spokesman Fred Sainz said in a statement. “If the purpose of these apps is not inappropriate, we want to give developers a chance to ensure they are properly complying with the rules, but we don’t hesitate to remove them from the App Store if they don’t.”