Flirting site suspended after child abuse revealed

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Social networking site Skout - which markets itself as the 'largest and fastest growing network for meeting new people and having fun', has suspended its teen community after three cases of alleged rape.

Ironically, the teen community was set up a year ago as a way of protecting young users online, after the company noticed that a number of under-18s were joining its adult group.

"In recent weeks, we’ve learned of several incidents involving a few bad actors trying to take advantage of some of our younger members," says the company's founder and CEO Christian Wiklund in a blog post.

"For now, we believe that there’s only one thing we can do: until we can design better protections, we are temporarily shutting down the under-18 community."

The app is designed to help 13 to 17-year-olds meet new people and flirt. However, according to the New York Times, adult men posed as teenagers themselves to join. Two used it to meet and rape a pair of underage girls, and a third to sexually assault a young boy.

There's no information on how long the suspension will last, although Wiklund says he hopes it will be back online 'soon'.

"We are working around the clock to build better safeguards, including mechanisms for age verification, and we’re partnering with a leading risk management advisory firm to strengthen our current security measures," he says.