“If for some reason someone was bullying someone,” said Vlada Bortnik, the creator of Marco Polo, “we would take the steps to make sure our platform stays safe and probably remove them from the platform.” (Blocking someone is also an option.)
Yellow, which has been called “Tinder for teens” (swipe right if you want to become friends with someone; swipe left if you don’t), opens with a geo-locator. There is a 13-year-old age minimum, which there’s no way of verifying.
Flipping through Yellow is like watching an MTV beach party from the 1990s, with countless photos of shirtless teenagers looking to “make new friends.”
It’s not hard to wreak havoc with a false profile using a real schoolmate’s name.
In an email, Marc-Antoine Durand, the head of community and safety at Yellow, wrote that the company is addressing parents’ concerns by prioritizing emails that are sent through the settings feature of the app. Yellow also has a team of “human moderators” who look at potentially fake content and impostor accounts. “Users who do create fake profiles or share inappropriate content are blocked and removed from Yellow,” Mr. Durand wrote.
Anonymous apps have been developed for people interested in a faceless and nameless documentation of their lives (as opposed to a selfie), drawing in children who learned from earlier generations about the consequences of an offensive online footprint. (For example, Harvard University withdrew admission offers to 10 incoming freshmen in June because of obscene Facebook posts.)
There are a number of anonymous apps on the market — After School, Sarahah, SayAt.Me, Monkey and Ask.Fm are some of the most popular — all of them promising the same feature: Spill intimate feelings about yourself or, on the flip side, spread rumors and attack friends, without any trace of who said what.
SayAt.Me has been under scrutiny since the death of George Hessay, 15, from East Yorkshire, England, who committed suicide in May after reportedly receiving bullying messages on the app.
The company deletes abusive content if reported, Hanna Talving, its chief executive, wrote in an email. “We also protect our site users from negative content by flagging it to them before they see it.”