Don’t Talk to Strangers, Kids

The app that helps you to do exactly what your mom said not to: talk to strangers.

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Don’t Talk to Strangers, Kids

A screenshot from the Monkey twitter page.

A screenshot from the Monkey twitter page.

A screenshot from the Monkey twitter page.

A screenshot from the Monkey twitter page.

Madeline Hammett, Copy Editor

When kids are young, one of the first things they are told by their parents is “don’t talk to strangers.” Usually, children listen and don’t talk face to face to people they do not know. However, there is an app called Monkey that has found a loophole to this well-known rule. Monkey is a video chat app that connects one stranger to another. Users get matched with someone else from anywhere in the world randomly for an intro video chat call.

Monkey breaches individual privacy and security on so many obvious levels. The app’s average user age is 23 and it is recorded as one of the most downloaded apps for people under 25, according to Customer News and Business Channel. The Monkey app is available to anyone over 13 years old according to the Terms of Use, but the app’s conditions clearly state that is is very possible for someone to lie about their age and the app assumes no responsibility for that potential user.

The app also claims no responsibility for the content that is sent or how users conduct themselves while using the app, it simply claims to be a platform that “brings together users,” according to the app’s Terms of Use. The app simultaneously connects kid, teen or adult to another without taking any measures of precaution to protect people. After the initial video chat call, the app allows its users to add the other person on Snapchat. After adding them on Snapchat, violating privacy is even more possible, especially for kids and teens. With Snapchat, it is possible to track another person on Snap Maps and share location via Snapchat conversations. This becomes a real danger when adults can see a child’s location.

The fear is that Monkey could turn into an app for sexual predators targeting young teens. This happened to a very similar site called Omegle which allows you to video chat one on one with another person just like the Monkey app, but for an indefinite amount of time. In 2013, A 14-year-old Oklahoma girl using the Omegle site was chatting with a 29-year-old man via video chat after he claimed that he was in high school too. The girl thought the site was simply a cool way for strangers to meet strangers and had no idea that she was conversing with a sexual predator she said according to Nine News. The video chats eventually became in-person meetups. The man, Boualiane Heuangvilay, was charged with rape, according to Nine News. This is just one real-life situation that happened easily through the site Omegle and could happen just as easily if not easier through the Monkey app. 

Some people may see the app as a potential to make the world smaller; the app pairs two strangers of any age, any distance or any gender together for a 10-second video call. That call even opens up the opportunity to have a new Instagram follower or Snapchat friend and in today’s twenty-first century, that extra follower or higher snap score can almost seem as important as a face to face in-person friend. Unfortunately, while that may seem like one great benefit, the many harms and risks such as location tracking, inappropriate adult-child interaction and plain old stranger danger, that the Monkey app introduces are not worth the few benefits that the app brings. 

If you want to video chat or facetime with someone, call a friend, not a random person. People always say mother knows best. It turns out, mother really does: Don’t talk to strangers (not even over a video chat app).

 

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