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#Yubo raises the stakes for established social media

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With the announcement that French start-up and friend-making app Yubo raised €11.2 million in fresh funds from major French private equity firms, it has become abundantly clear that the digital market is undergoing a fundamental change – one that will see a change of guard among the leading social media apps and a redefinition of what constitutes a successful social network.

Yubo, after having received funds from such investors as Iris Capital, Idinvest Partners and Village Global, is now slated to accelerate the development of its technology, and further expand its presence in the world. The app is already used globally and has a primarily largely English-speaking user base of over 20 million – primarily in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.

With a target audience of 13 to 25-year olds, Yubo appeals particularly to Generation Z (Gen Z) customers, a demographic of consumers that is the driving factor in today’s digital economy. Uniquely tech-savvy, attracted to disruptive technologies and ways of doing things, these modern consumers seek to engage in a more curated, personalized online experience.

Indeed, both Millennials and Gen Z have begun to turn their backs on traditional social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, all of which have been experiencing slower growth amid an ever-faster melting user base. And as confidence in traditional providers continues to wane, digital disruptors are taking the opportunity to change the status quo by tailoring services, platforms and online communities to reflect this change in demand.

After all, Millennials and Gen Z-ers are increasingly looking to belong to communities where they can be both consumers and content creators, and consequently, socializing apps that prioritize direct communication and positive interactivity are gaining ground. This democratic approach to creating and sharing content not only validates individuals’ contributions but also creates the type of highly engaged communities that are currently reshaping the online social landscape.

As a platform based around live-streaming, Yubo is an app designed to allow teenagers to make new friends via their smartphones. Growing currently at a rate of 10 percent month-over-month, Yubo’s more interactive model is working – with venture capital smelling a long-term opportunity.

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Instead of participating in a largely passive scroll-and-like experience, Yubo users are encouraged to engage in more meaningful interactions with other young people who share their interests – even if they live on the other side of the world. To keep the user experience enjoyable, Yubo invested heavily in bespoke safeguarding technology.

This included the development of a custom-made algorithm that shields users from potential harm by being able to detect users that are not fully clothed. In that case, the algorithm intervenes live into the livestream and the user in question is given one minute to before the stream gets cut.

The idea behind this stringent but essentially soft approach derives from the fact that the app developers regard Yubo as a means to educate its youthful user base, rather than punishing them outright. By intervening live and direct, the app sets limits and holds users accountable for their actions while using the app. According to Annie Mullins OBE, founder of the Trust + Safety Group and user protection adviser to Yubo, “it’s not about punishing but helping and supporting young people set their own boundaries and learn as they use social media services such as Yubo.”

Such a community-enforced set of rules has given Yubo a head start – and a big funding boost – to place it at the vanguard of new-age social networks.

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