Yolo, a special sort of messaging app that is exceedingly popular today among teenagers, has been shut down recently after a teenage boy who was bullied there decided to take his own life.
For those who are not familiar with it, Yolo is a third-party Snapchat-adjacent app that allows users to communicate with one another anonymously. They do this by way of answering questions that have been anonymously posted to Snapchat.
Because the app is totally anonymous, anyone can say whatever he likes on it without consequences or repercussions. Many critics have warned, therefore, that the potential for cyberbullying with Yolo is virtually unlimited since people can be much more openly vicious in what they say while hiding behind anonymity.
One critic even referred to Yolo as “a disaster waiting to happen.” Nevertheless, the app was able to secure $8 million in startup funding in February 2020.
And now, sadly, the ominous predictions of these critics have born tragic fruit.
Kristin Bride, the mother of the boy who committed suicide, filed a lawsuit on Monday, May 10 alleging that her son committed suicide because he was bullied on Yolo and LMK, another similar app.
In response, Snapchat has responded by temporarily suspending both of these apps, stating through a spokesman that, “In light of the serious allegations raised by the lawsuit, and out of an abundance of caution for the safety of the Snapchat community, we are suspending both Yolo and LMK’s Snap Kit integrations while we investigate these claims.”
There now appear to be other plaintiffs joining with Bride to voice similar complaints about bullying on Yolo and similar apps. Yolo reviews on various app stores have also begun appearing from parents and others complaining of horrific online abuse. “Worst app ever,” writes one distraught parent. “My 14-year-old daughter got this stupid app. When I took her phone to go through it, [I] saw all the awful, inappropriate comments people leave, and I was absolutely disgusted!”
In order to try and mitigate the cyberbullying that happens on Yolo, the app’s developers have created another service called Here For You, which is designed to help those suffering from trauma, anxiety or depression.
Alas, as this case shows, it isn’t working.