Teens, Welcome Back to Skout!

Today we are reopening our teen community.  Getting to this point has required a substantial amount of work and has resulted in a significant number of changes to provide our teens as safe a place as possible to interact.  I am going to detail the changes in this blog post so you know what the new safety measures are, but I hope you will also understand that some details must be held back for security purposes.

First, though, I want to remind everyone of the principles we followed in making these changes.  From the beginning, we have always wanted Skout to be the safest possible way to make new connections and friends.  We have always wanted Skout to be a place where people from around the world could meet others who share their interests in a comfortable environment.  Recent events convinced us that we needed to improve our safety measures and re-evaluate the features in our teen community to make sure that those friendships could spark and grow safely.  In order to do so, we temporarily suspended access while we worked internally and with outside experts to improve our safety and security procedures.

We are well aware that there is no such thing as “100% safe” in any aspect of life, but we believe the changes we have made to our app certainly make it safer.  We will continually monitor the community and make improvements and changes on an ongoing basis.

 

So, here’s a summary of the changes we’ve made:

  • Age Verification: We spent a big part of the last several weeks figuring out the best way to ensure users are the age they say they are.  There is no one perfect solution, so we are going to use several.  Users under 18 must now sign in through Facebook Connect which will allow us to do social proofing.  This gives us a good source to verify the age we are provided.

Please note that all existing teen users who log onto Skout beginning today must re-establish their contacts and favorites and sign in through Facebook Connect to activate their account again.

  • Location: To start, we will be changing the location policy for our under-18 community. In the user interface for teens, location technology no longer exists. You will not be able to search for other users by location and you will no longer see the location of the users you are chatting with.  Skout has redesigned the app to only allow teen users to communicate with other teen users who are at least 100 miles away from them.
  • Photo Sharing: We know how much you enjoy sharing photos of your experiences with your friends on Skout.  We encourage you to keep doing so but moving forward, we have decided to eliminate the private photo sharing feature. Every photo shared will meet the high standards we have for the community.
  • Teens and Adults: We are going to be more vigilant than ever in deploying our technology and our community managers to screen teenagers from the over-18 community and keep the two groups separate.  Skout’s advanced, proprietary algorithms continuously monitors activity on the network to identify users whose behavior appears unusual, inappropriate or suspicious.
  • Policy Violations: We have a very clear message to those who violate our policies: if you violate them, you will be banned.  That means if you give us a fake age and try to correct it later when you’re rejected, you will be banned.  It means if you step over the line when interacting with other users, you will be banned.  We know that there can be honest mistakes, so we will have a review process in place, but the bar to get back in will be very high.
The entire Skout team has been touched by the outpouring of support we have heard from the community.  We’re happy to bring the community back to you, and we hope you’ll continue to make connections with people around the world to share ideas, trades stories and build friendships. But we also know that today is just the beginning of a long-term commitment and focus on safety.  Please help us by taking your own steps to stay safe and visit our safety awareness center.

 

Thanks again for your support.

Christian