Dating apps that allow children as young as 12 to set up profiles have been banned from the Apple and Google stores because they are being used by sexual predators.
The crackdown took place following a warning from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about apps called FastMeet, Meet24 and Meet4U.
The FTC said, "FastMeet, Meet24 and Meet4U let children create public dating profiles. So, adults can use these apps to connect with children.
"If that’s not scary enough, the apps collect users’ real-time location data. In other words, adults – including sexual predators – can search by age and location to identify children nearby."
Apps enable adults to track children’s location
A man was arrested in New York in March for attempting to use FastMeet to arrange a meet up with an undercover police officer posing as a 13 year old girl.
The FTC contacted Ukrainian firm Wildec LLC, which owns the apps, explaining that the collection of data on children under the age of 13 without parental consent is a violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Wildec is liable for children using the apps because anybody can enter their age onto the platforms without repercussions.
Although the apps claim to prevent anybody under 13 from entering their information, there is nothing in place to actually enforce this rule.
Under 13s are not stopped from using the dating apps
The FTC also said, "Parents be warned: some dating apps – like FastMeet, Meet24 and Meet4U – allow adults to find and communicate with children.
"Concerned parents should remove these apps if they’re on children’s devices. You also can set your kids’ devices so they must get parental approval before purchasing any new apps."
This article originally appeared on our sister site, The Scotsman