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Anonymous Q&A app YOLO is a hit with Snapchat teens, but bullying concerns linger

Anonymous Q&A app YOLO is a hit with Snapchat teens, but bullying concerns linger
[Photo: Samantha Gades/Unsplash]

The latest app to become an overnight sensation with fickle teenagers is called YOLO. First released on the App Store just seven days ago, the app has shot up to take the No. 1 spot on the charts and has received an average 4.7-star rating, with over 45,000 reviews so far.

YOLO is one of the latest apps that’s built on top of Snapchat’s Snap Kit platform, which enables apps to allow users to create accounts and log in to them using their existing Snapchat ID. Snap Kit also allows third-party apps to integrate with Snap’s own app. YOLO is a Q&A app that lets users send anonymous questions to another Snapchat user, which they can then answer in their Snapchat Story. Alternately, the app also allows Snapchat users to post questions in their Story, which other anonymous Snapchat users can then answer.

Given how teenagers like to gossip and seek affirmation from their peers, there’s little wonder why YOLO has taken off. As one source told TechCrunch, “EVERYONE at my high school is using it right now.”

But if YOLO’s features sound a little familiar, it’s because the app isn’t the first to enable anonymous questions and answers. Plenty of apps before it, like Sarahah, Secret, and YikYak, have offered similar features–and those apps should serve as a warning to YOLO’s developers.

Why? Because those anonymous Q&A apps became a toxic battlefield of bullying. In Sarahah’s case, the bullying got so bad that Apple and Google kicked it off their app stores. YOLO does warn users that it has “no tolerance for objectionable content or abusive users” before they can start asking or answering questions–but when have teenagers ever followed such rules en masse?

It’ll be interesting to see how YOLO pans out. Even if it doesn’t become a new breeding ground for bullying, the app could fall just as quickly as it rose. After all, teens are a fickle group who get bored with apps quickly and decide to move on to the next “must use” app. Until then, if a teenager you know looks extra obsessed with their phone this week, there’s a good chance it’s because of YOLO.

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