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Three adult men have been accused of raping children whom they met using the Skout app, according to .In one case, a 24-year-old man allegedly raped a 12-year-old California girl.Skout’s efforts were comparable to those of other companies that promote teen safety.For instance, Wired Trust hires out its moderators to search for illegal activity and predators online, and offers back end technological solutions for companies that can pinpoint suspicious users or activities—reportedly by examining the age differences between them and any teens whom they might befriend.In a second instance case, a 15-year-old Ohio girl has accused a 37-year-old man of rape.And in the third, a 13-year-old boy accused a 21-year-old Wisconsin man of sexual assault.Skout announced its decision to end its teen app recently, in a blog post.The company also described its ongoing vigilance in trying to keep malicious adults outside of its teen circle: “We deploy advanced, proprietary technology that continuously monitors activity on the network to identify users whose behavior appears unusual, inappropriate or suspicious.
(Facebook does not allow users under 13, but it has been studying ways to safely let younger users onto its network, since new studies show that many kids under 13 already have accounts on Facebook by lying about their ages.) Skout markets its mobile app as “one of the largest mobile networks for meeting new people.” Last year, the company designed its under-18 group app, to help teens meet new people and flirt. (Under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), even thirteen-year-olds can access an adult chat site if their parents consent.) But what was meant to be a place for 13-to-17-year-olds to find a date with fellow teens nearby has now turned into a scary tale.If so, then law enforcement, social-media entrepreneurs, and parents all may need to think about ways to discourage such business models.Skout’s Teen App Skout offers a mobile app and social-media platform that allows people to meet up.While such sites need to exercise vigilance—as Skout apparently did—they may also need to cooperate more actively with law enforcement in order to prevent such activity from occurring.In the end, it may be the case that teen sites that are focused explicitly on dating and sexual relations will continually be magnets for illegal and predatory behavior by adults.