Skout suspends under-18 service after it’s linked to rapes

(Credit: Skout)

Skout suspended its 17-and-under community following reports of men posing as teenagers to prey on minors on the mobile social network.

The creators of the popular location-based flirting app suspended the site at 1 p.m. PT to adjust safety and security measures, according to Skout’s blog post on the suspension.

In the last two weeks, three cases of reported sexual assault against minors involved men who allegedly posed as teenagers in the Skout forum for 13 to 17-year-olds in order to meet or identify their victims, according to the New York Times.

In Escondido, Calif., a 24-year-old man was accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. In another case, a 15-year-old girl said she had been raped by a 37-year-old man she met using Skout. In the third, a 21-year-old man in Waukesha, Wis., is facing charges that he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old boy, according to

Skout is partnering with a risk management advisory firm to ensure make the best technical safeguards are implemented, including age verification.

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CEO Christian Wiklund explained his decision in a company release:

After working with law enforcement on a few troubling incidents in recent weeks, we have decided that this is the right step to ensure the safety of all of our users. While the vast majority of our community uses Skout appropriately, a few have not, and that is simply unacceptable. We know how much teenagers value Skout, and we apologize for this disruption of service, but we hope they will understand that we are acting in the best interests of the community.

During this temporary closure, Skout will be testing and updating safeguards. Skout currently monitors and screens profiles to look for unusual, inappropriate or suspicious behavior. If a profile looks suspecious, the company bans the user. As a result, the company said it bans over tens of thousands of devices each month.

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via CNET Latest News

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