UPDATE 12pm PT 6/20:
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.
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