Written by Connor Woods-Tutson
For the past couple of years, social media platforms at the top have not changed. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat have been the most prominent players in the field, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have any competition. Below we talk about three up and social media platforms that could give these powerhouses a run for their money.
What is it?
Monkey was released by the HOLLA group in 2016. Monkey is an app that allows people to video chat with someone for 10 seconds. If both parties agree, they can add additional time to chat for longer. Monkey’s goal is to connect people by allowing them to video chat for a short amount of time, allowing them to move on to meet a new person quickly. It took Monkey about two years to grow, blowing up in 2018. Throughout 2018 and 2019, Monkey ranked in the top 20 social networking apps and reached its peak at #4 on April 7, 2019. In January 2019, Monkey passed 15 million downloads. Monkey has also partnered with celebrities to bring more attention to their app. The app even boasts about a “Famous Mode,” which allows people to have conversations with their favorite celebs like Cardi B, Kim K, and PostMalone.
On the other hand, Monkey has had its fair share of backlash. Nicknamed “Chatroulette” by parents, Monkey’s biggest problem is keeping explicit content off the app. Monkey’s average age is 23, but due to their marketing campaigns, the majority of their users are children. “These are virtual playgrounds for children which (potentially) become a vehicle for pedophiles to prey on their victims,” according to Mr.Carr-Gregg, one of Australia’s highest-profile psychologists. Monkey’s community guidelines strictly prohibit any bullying, threats, or explicit content, but have yet found a way to enforce these guidelines truly. Monkey is a “self-governing” app which relies on users to report any infractions of the guidelines. This strategy requires Monkey to rely on users to report violations of the rules, and then review all of the reports. Monkey has taken steps to figure this out by hiring a 24/7 moderation team that sorts through all the reports.
As of the time of writing this article, Monkey is the #9 social networking app on the app store and is still going strong. Successfully finding a solution to their problem can potentially give Monkey the boost to truly become mainstream.
What Is it?
Yubo is a social discovery app, launched by French startup TWELVE APP in 2015. The central concept of Yubo is to allow users to have a live stream with up to 10 friends of the same age. There can be an infinite amount of viewers who can interact with the streamers. This concept resembles Instagram live, except with the capability of having ten streamers instead of two, with all the users being of similar age. Yubo also provides a feature where users can swipe on potential friends of the same age and message. Yubo currently has over 20 million users, with close to 1 million users who use the app daily. The company is also growing at 10% month-over-month.
The common perception of Yubo is that it is a dating app for kids. With its swipe feature that is similar to tinder, both kids and parents have this perception. Yubo’s response to this is that a vast majority of users never meet up in person, and is instead about finding long-distance friends. Yubo has had its fair share of controversy. In January 2019, a 26-year old and a minor were found having unlawful sexual contact in a parked car outside of a church. The two met through Yubo, sparking outrage from parents and critics of the app. In response, Yubo partnered with YOTI, which uses their age estimation technology to analyze people’s faces and estimate their age. The goal is to weed out people who have lied about their age while using the app. According to YOTI, they have already checked more than 20 million users and removed a “few thousand” profiles belonging to under-13s. Since its partnership with YOTI, Yubo has not faced any considerable controversy and seems to have temporarily fixed their issue.
To consider TikTok still up and coming is scary. Formally Music.ly, TikTok has already taken over the world and does not look like slowing down any time soon. The app allows users to make 15-second video clips, soundtracked by music. TikTok has its share of celebrities who use their app such as Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry, Jonas Brothers, and many more. With TikTok only starting in 2016, it has taken off like a rocket breaking countless records for downloads in such a short period. In Q4 of 2018, TikTok surpassed Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook in worldwide app downloads. (media kix) In January 2019, TikTok passed the 1 Billion mark for global installs and was the 3rd most downloaded app in Q1 2019 with 188 million new users, growing 70% from just a year before. TikTok has been able to achieve these record-breaking numbers by being genuinely global. TikTok is in 150 different markets and 75 different languages. With TikTok being a truly global force, it looks at the top of social networking sites as its goal.
In February of 2019, TikTok was hit with a record fine of $5.7 million by the US Federal Trade Commission. The charges were that TikTok illegally collected personal information from children. The FTC also says that in their investigation, they “uncovered disturbing practices, including collecting and exposing the location” of young children. Despite receiving thousands of complaints from parents, the company failed to comply with requests to delete information about underage children and held onto it longer than necessary, according to the commission. A day after the lawsuit, the company implemented a new app experience for younger US members, which limits the capabilities. The restrictions include not allowing them to share their videos on TikTok, comment on others’ videos, message with users, or maintain a profile with followers. In July 2019, the UK is investigating how TikTok handles children’s data and whether it ensures safety on its platform.
As these platforms continue to grow, you can expect to hear about them, whether it be from colleagues or your kids. Interestingly, all three platforms target kids as their primary audience; and because of this, they have run into controversy. Successfully controlling an app with both kids and adults has proven a challenge. With no lack of users, once these apps figure out the solutions to these problems, there’s no limit on their potential.