FOSI Gives Skout Two Thumbs Up on Community Safety Work

  We are very proud to share with our Skout community and friends that the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) recognized Gosia Aleta, our very own community director, with an award for outstanding achievements in safety.

We’ve always been proud of the work Gosia and her team of 40 community managers are doing to keep our Skout community fun, healthy and ‘well-lit’ for all of our users, but FOSI’s award recognizes Skout’s outstanding community management staff and our industry leadership in safety measures.

We are setting the safety bar high and we are committed to developing and implementing the best tools, systems and educational methods that will keep you, our Skout community members, safe and engaged. Gosia’s recent recognition are important milestones for Skout and our work to ensure that you are protected and free to Skout away at your heart’s desire.

 

Skout Appoints VP of Trust, Safety & Community

 Skout recently named community safety expert Karen Barker vice president of trust, safety and community.

“As Skout’s community safety leader, Karen will ensure that trust and safety is built into everything we do,” said CEO and founder Christian Wiklund.

Barker will direct a global team of community managers, lead privacy and safety policy initiatives, collaborate with product, engineering and design teams, and oversee the enforcement of trust and safety policies.

“Our community is highly engaged and active because we create fun, positive experiences and have zero tolerance for bad behavior,” said Wiklund. “Karen will help us strengthen this commitment and guide us as we continue to implement some of the most advanced safety policies and technologies in the industry.”

Offering two separate and distinct communities for teens and adults, Skout is committed to cultivating peace of mind as community members easily and safely make new friends and enjoy features like chatting, virtual gift-giving and photo sharing.

Skout deploys advanced, proprietary technology that continuously monitors activity on the network to identify users whose behavior appears unusual, inappropriate or suspicious.  Under its zero-tolerance policy, Skout immediately bans users for inappropriate or suspicious behavior.

Barker is a customer safety expert who has designed and managed community care, fraud and risk programs for companies including Sprint, The Walt Disney Company, Restoration Hardware, and eHarmony.

Starting in 1990 as vice president of operations for SuperShuttle International, Barker worked with transportation associations and public utilities commissions to develop programs for the safety of passengers and drivers. She was instrumental in testing onboard safety technology including the first GPS-based vehicle tracking and dispatching system.

In her new role, Barker will be instrumental in actualizing Skout’s mission of connecting people around the world through a platform that is fun, engaging and secure.

“The opportunity to work with a community as dynamic and thriving as Skout’s is tremendous.  I look forward to building on the strong systems, tools and processes that reflect Skout’s top commitment, which is the safety of its community,” said Barker. “The Skout team has set the safety bar high and we will continue to work diligently to implement the best tools, systems and educational methods.”

 

 

Skout Teen Community Suspension

UPDATE 12pm PT 6/20:


Skout users,


As I mentioned in my last update, I'm genuinely moved by your response.  One thing is clear: you're as passionate about the Skout community as I am.  Your safety is our #1 priority and that's why we're taking this time to evaluate our procedures and work with experts to strengthen the measures we already have in place.


I also wanted to let you know that we are pushing an update to our iOS and Android apps that will be live within the week. This app update has been in the works for several months – it addresses a few bugs and introduces an improved user interface.

This does not change the suspension of our teen community.  We're still working 24/7 on our safety improvements, and I'll give you an update on when we'll be reopening the under-18 community as soon as possible.


Christian

UPDATE 11:10pm PT 6/13:

I am deeply touched by all the responses here, and understand the pain the temporary suspension is causing. Rest assured, we are working around the clock on this. While we are making good progress on building new features that will enhance Skout's safety  -- we are not quite there yet. Please, bear with us and hang in there!

Christian Wiklund, Founder and CEO

-----

Today Skout has decided to temporarily suspend access to our teen community.  This is not a decision we made lightly, so let me explain in my own words why we chose this path.

The safety of our community is our #1 concern.  About a year ago, we noticed that a number of underage users were entering the 18+ community.  So, we thought long and hard about how to set up a safe network for teens and decided to broaden our reach to be more than just a dating app.  Since then, we’ve grown to become one of the largest mobile networks for meeting new people.

Our commitment to safety remains.  With more than a quarter of our staff dedicated to community management, we actively monitor and screen to ensure that the two separate communities for users 18+ and for teen users are kept distinct and that behavior is age-appropriate.  We deploy advanced, proprietary technology that continuously monitors activity on the network to identify users whose behavior appears unusual, inappropriate or suspicious.  Under our zero-tolerance policy, we immediately ban users for inappropriate or suspicious behavior.  Also, unlike many location-based apps, Skout provides general rather than specific location information, empowering each community member to decide if, when and where to meet in person.

However, it’s become clear to us that these measures aren’t enough.  In recent weeks, we’ve learned of several incidents involving a few bad actors trying to take advantage of some of our younger members.

We thought carefully about what to do.  We know how much Skout means to our teen community, and, at Skout, our community means everything to us. 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.

We are extremely sorry about this, but we don’t believe we have any other choice.  We will not compromise the safety of our community, and right now, our concerns are too significant to simply stand by and do nothing.  We are working around the clock to build better safeguards, including mechanisms for age verification, and we’re partnering with a leading risk management advisory firm to strengthen our current security measures.  We hope to have the community back online soon.

Again, I’m very, very sorry, but I hope you understand why we decided to take this step.  Skout means a lot to you -- it means a lot to me, too.  We want to do what is right, and that starts by doing everything we can to ensure the safety of our community.

- Christian Wiklund, Founder and CEO

 

Terms of Service Update and a Reminder

With tens of thousands of new users signing onto our app each day, we’re working hard to make the experience of meeting new people as fun and positive as possible.  We want to do this by staying true to our community and maintaining your trust, so we regularly review and update our Terms of Service (TOS). Today we rolled out some updates to the TOS, so that it’s easier to read, more transparent, and fully represents the intended uses of Skout and the character of our community. Importantly, although our Privacy Policy has long declared that Skout does not intend to accept registrations from children under 13, our TOS now explicitly forbids children under 13 from using our service. Skout is designed for two separate communities – adults and teenagers 13 and older – and we’ve made sure to spell that out as clearly as possible in this updated TOS. We encourage you to read the full policy and we welcome your comments.

Related to the TOS changes, we want to remind the community about what is and isn’t allowed on Skout. One of the things that users love most about Skout is that we are all about preserving and re-creating the “magic” of serendipitous meetings, making possible a wide range of social connections from friendship to networking. But while we love to foster serendipity, we aim to take the risk factor out of it. How do we do that? In several different ways:

  • One, we are obsessively focused on keeping our community safe. We have zero tolerance for bad behavior, and we ban about 40,000 devices each month for violations of our standards. Our community managers monitor activity 24/7, using custom-built tools to identify suspicious or inappropriate keywords and behaviors, in partnership with our vigilant users. Every single report from our users is looked at by a real person and addressed in a timely manner.
  • Two, unlike many location-based apps, Skout provides general rather than specific location information, empowering each community member to decide if, when and where to meet in person. Community members never have to reveal any personal information except age and gender. You are in control of your online experience at all times – and we always recommend that users remain anonymous until they feel ready and confident that the person they’ve been chatting with is safe to meet. If you ever feel unsafe or threatened, Skout recommends that you cease communication and report any misbehavior immediately using the Report button or emailing support@skout.com.

If you get to the point where you are ready to meet your new Skout friend in person, please refer to our safety tips, that we shared on the Skout blog a few months ago.