Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dating App Linked to Sex Assaults of Minors

Posted By on Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 9:35 AM

Following allegations that the application was linked to the sexual assault of minors, a dating app has been blocked for the under-18 crowd.

The New York Times reports that Skout, which uses GPS technology in smartphones to show members who else is nearby, made the decision to place an age restriction on the software after being linked to three recent sexual assaults on minors.

On its company blog, Skout explained it kept its service to 13- to 17-year-olds separate from its adult users, with a number of extra safety measures in place. But the safeguards hadn't been enough to stop "a few bad actors trying to take advantage of our younger members," wrote Christian Wiklund, Skout's founder.

"For now, we believe that there's only one thing we can do: until we can design better protections, we are temporarily shutting down the under-18 community," said the company.

According to the Time's tech blog, at least three of Skout's young users have been involved in sexual assaults. In California, a 24-year-old man is accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. In Ohio, a 15-year-old girl said she was raped by a 37-year-old man. In Wisconsin, a 21-year-old man has been charged with sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy. In each case, the Times said, the perpetrator posed as a teenager to access Skout's under-18 forums.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Skout is the largest location-based dating app in the world, with more than 5 million subscribers.

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