The makers of Skout spent three years building their app, which connects users to nearby strangers.Now that model could change completely, after several minors said they’d been raped after using Skout to meet up with strangers, the New York Times reports.
“One case is too many,” Skout founder Christian Wiklund told the Times. “When you have three, it looks like a pattern. This is my worst fear.”
The three cases involved children all under 15:
- A 24-year-old man was accused of raping a 12-year-old girl in California.
- A 37-year-old man was accused of raping a 15-year-old girl.
- A 21-year-old man was accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy.
The men allegedly posed as teenagers in one of Skout’s forums for 13-17 year-olds.
Wiklund has suspended the service for minors, who are a “significant” portion of Skout’s user base.
In April, Skout raised $22 million from Andreessen Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley’s biggest venture-capital firms. Scott Weiss, the Andreessen Horowitz partner who led the Skout deal, said the firm is still backing the company.
Skout claims to “prescreen” users’ exchange of photos. The company would not say whether it noticed the nude photos allegedly exchanged between the parties of one case.
Myspace, once the dominant social network in the US, struggled with cases of inappropriate contact between adults and minors via its website.
Facebook should be paying attention: It recently said it might try to open its site to children under 13.
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