Getting kids to share personal info with strangers is the whole point of new dating app Hoop. What could possibly go wrong?
Teen dating app Hoop rocketed to No. 2 on the overall App Store charts this month. Here’s what parents need to know.
The Snapchat connection
If your child has Snapchat, it’s easy for them to get the dating app Hoop - because it piggybacks on Snapchat the same way Tinder does with Facebook. Here’s how it works:
Users create an account with photos, a chosen age and a bit of bio info. That allows them to swipe through profiles. To start chatting, a user simply taps a Snapchat button to request a stranger’s Snap username. The chat itself then happens in Snapchat.
If that isn’t confusing enough - wait, there’s more.
Unlike Tinder, where users can “swipe right” as many times as they like, Hoop employs a diabolically clever in-app currency-style strategy that drives engagement in a dozen dodgy directions at once.
Hoop makes it easy for strangers to access your child’s personal information through their Snapchat account. What’s more, the app rewards them for doing so.
Requests to connect on Hoop need to be paid for in “diamonds” - which, after your initial 10 requests, need to be earned. How? By sharing and inviting friends to add the app, by adding people on Snapchat that you meet on Hoop, by logging in each day, taking surveys, watching video ads and/or signing up for streaming services or insurance providers.
What could go wrong?
So what are the dangers here? For one thing, Hoop makes it easy for strangers to access your child’s personal information through their Snapchat account.
What’s more, the app rewards them for doing so. Kids are invited to “choose an age” for their Hoop profile - which may or may not be the same as the one on their Snapchat account.
The in-app currency and rewards systems operate in a similar way, psychologically, to Snapstreaks - encouraging compulsive use and anxiety. (For more about Snapstreaks, check out cyber expert Jordan Foster's explainer here.)
Finally, Hoop encourages kids to take surveys. And that means data collection - and your child's personal information being sold to the highest bidder.
Main image source: Techcrunch
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