Parents be warned: some dating apps – like FastMeet, Meet24 and Meet4U – allow adults to find and communicate with children. Concerned parents should remove these apps if they’re on children’s devices. You also can set your kids’ devices so they must get parental approval before purchasing any new apps. Here are a few more things you should know.
FastMeet, Meet24 and Meet4U let children create public dating profiles. So, adults can use these apps to connect with children. If that’s not scary enough, the apps collect users’ real-time location data. In other words, adults – including sexual predators – can search by age and location to identify children nearby.
The FTC recently issued a warning letter to Wildec, LLC, the Ukraine-based maker of the three apps, because the company appears to be violating both the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the FTC Act. COPPA requires app providers to give notice and get consent from parents before collecting or sharing any personal information about children under age 13, and the FTC Act prohibits unfair acts or practices. As the FTC’s letter states, “the ability to identify and communicate with children – even those over age 13 – poses a significant risk to children’s health and safety.”
As of May 3, 2019, Apple and Google Play have removed FastMeet, Meet24, and Meet4U from their stores, although it’s possible that updated versions of these apps could appear in the future – but only for adults. To find information on how to delete existing versions of these apps, go to Apple’s website (for iPhones) or Google’s website (for Android phones).
For help talking with your kids about online safety, check out Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids about Being Online. To learn more about your COPPA rights, read the FTC’s Protecting Your Child’s Privacy Online. And, if you think a company has violated your COPPA rights, report it at ftc.gov/complaint.
- By Lisa Weintraub Schifferle, an attorney with the Division of Consumer & Business Education at the Federal Trade Commission.