'Tinder for teens' phone app allegedly being used by paedophiles in NZ prisons

The child exploitation unit at New Zealand Police has fired a warning over controversial phone app Yellow, amid allegations paedophiles are using it to target Kiwi teenagers.

Internet watchdog NetSafe has confirmed three complaints about the social networking site which specifically targets 13 to 17-year-olds - but where users can lie about their age and identity.

Its developers say their site is to help kids make friends, but 1 NEWS has found it littered with sexually-charged images, some too graphic to broadcast.

In less than 24 hours of signing up to an account, posing as a 13-year-old Kiwi girl, the first response was from a supposed 15-year-old Auckland boy, whose message said: "Can we have sex please?"

Additionally, a source inside Corrections has told 1 NEWS that convicted paedophiles in this country are using Yellow.

Dubbed "Tinder for teens", Yellow allows users to do far more on its platform than popular dating site Tinder - including sending live video to several recipients.

NetSafe chief executive Martin Cocker confirmed the complaints about suspicious behaviour on Yellow and that he is concerned about paedophile activity on the app.

"It's sort of perfect for criminals of that type," Cocker said.

Fears over Yellow and its risk of exposing children to online predators have been spreading around the world including in the UK and the US, where the FBI issued a warning about the app in March.

Those fears have now spread to New Zealand.

Detective Senior Sergeant John Michael, officer in charge of the Online Child Exploitation Across New Zealand (OCEANZ), said authorities are urging parents to be on alert.

"Police recommends parents and caregivers sit down with their young people and speak with them about the dangers of viewing or engaging in such behaviour as directed by this app," Detective Senior Sergeant Michael said.

The Paris-based developers behind Yellow describe their app as "a new social media to meet new friends and have fun with them".

Their marketing material also says "friendship is going to the next level!" but when questioned about that statement by 1 NEWS, Yellow denied that statement means sex.

"No, we do not. Yellow is a social media platform that enables teens to make new friends and connect with their peers either in their area, or around the world. It is not a dating site," Marc-Antoine Durand, chief safety officer at Yellow said.

"We do everything we can to keep teenagers safe, and we take our responsibility of safety seriously. Like all networks, we occasionally have to deal with unpleasant or inappropriate behavior.

"We make it a priority to deal with these proactively and responsibly. This is why we have gone beyond the industry standard in our safety features, and constantly review our safety procedures.

"We do not tolerate any inappropriate or predatory behaviour on our site."

Corrections said it has no knowledge of prisoners using Yellow.

"We currently have no evidence of the Yellow phone app being used within prisons. Anyone who thinks that they have had illegal contact from a prisoner using a cellphone from prison, or has received other concerning contact, should immediately notify police, anonymous crime reporting line Crimestoppers or Corrections," a spokeswoman said.

"Cellphones are contraband in prisons, and we go to great lengths to prevent prisoners from having access to them.

"All prisons use an extensive range of methods to prevent contraband entry.

"These include extensive perimeter security, camera surveillance, searches of staff, contractors and visitors, and their vehicles, scanners and x-technology and specialist detector dog teams, including dogs that can detect cellphones.

"When we are notified that a prisoner may have access to a contraband cellphone, we take immediate action. Prisoners found in possession of contraband are charged through the internal misconduct system.

"If found guilty, they can be sanctioned with a loss of privileges such access to hobbies or telephone calls or visits in excess of minimum entitlement, forfeiture of earnings, or cell confinement.

"Depending on the type of contraband and circumstances, the matter may also be referred to police for consideration of criminal charges."





Refugee quota increase a proud moment, Red Cross says, but now it's time to prepare

Jacinda Ardern's announcement yesterday that we will increase our yearly refugee intake to 1500 by 2020 was a proud moment for New Zealand, says Red Cross official Rachel O'Conner.

But there are some things we will have to do as a nation to prepare for the increase, which will result in New Zealand having doubled its intake in less than five years, she told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning.

"We'll need people to respond, we're going to need people to volunteer, to donate items," she said. "But a lot of it is about...having welcoming communities."

Resettlement, she explained, is difficult - away from family and friends, without work and often having to learn a new language.

"Kiwis have this value of showing care and compassion, and that is what helps build that sense of belonging," said Ms O'Conner, who serves as national migration programmes manager for the humanitarian organisation.

That's 500 extra people who'll be making New Zealand home annually. Source: 1 NEWS

Under the Prime Minister's plan, six new resettlement communities will be established so that existing ones in New Zealand aren't over-burdened. The towns, however, haven't yet been chosen.

"We're going to be looking for councils and community groups to put up their hands and say, 'Yup, we want to be one of the new six'," Ms O'Conner said.

Ms O'Conner described yesterday's announcement as "a great start". But with 1.4 million people in desperate need of resettlement, "we're seeing unprecedented needs globally at the moment", she added, explaining that the Government also needs to take another good look at foreign aid and peace building activities.

Even after yesterday's announcement, New Zealand is far from being a leader in terms of refugee intake numbers.

PM Jacinda Ardern made the announcement today. Source: 1 NEWS

"But we are leaders in the terms of the quality of resettlement that we provide," she said, telling the story of a mum who had carried her disabled teen son on her back for his entire life because they didn't have access to health care in their previous country.

After arriving in Auckland, the boy was given a wheelchair and it changed both of their lives, O'Conner said.

"She kept saying, 'I can't believe I don't have to carry him anymore'," she recalled.

Jacinda Ardern’s announcement yesterday means six new settlement locations will be in the works, Rachel O’Conner told Breakfast. Source: Breakfast

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Inquiry to look at how NSW police investigated dozens of gay hate killings

The way NSW Police investigated gay hate crimes, which drove men over cliffs to their deaths or saw them brutally bashed in their homes or city parks, will be examined by a state parliamentary inquiry.

The inquiry to be conducted by the NSW Social Issues Committee, will investigate how NSW Police handled gay hate crimes and why the state's justice system may not have protected LGBTQI people or delayed justice for them and their families.

The committee will investigate the almost 90 gay murders between 1970 and 2010 and also call for public submissions from victims and their families.

A police investigation of 88 suspicious deaths of gay men between 1976 to 2000 found 27 of them were likely murdered simply for being gay.

Committee chair Shayne Mallard said the inquiry would look at gay hate crimes perpetrated against the LGBTIQ community and review current policies to identify shortcomings.

Australia police Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Mother of Spanish golfer slain in US talks about her daughter's special shine

The parents of slain top amateur Spanish golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena spoke about their daughter on Wednesday, saying she had a "special shine."

Her mother Miriam Arozamena spoke near their family home in the northern Spanish village of Puente San Miguel.

Looking distraught, the mother told reporters that she used to speak with her daughter every day and that she was an intelligent, studious and organised person.

The golfer was finishing her degree at Iowa State University when she was killed.

Collin Daniel Richards, a former inmate from small-town Iowa with a history of violence, was charged with stabbing Barquin Arozamena to death during a random attack while she was golfing by herself in broad daylight on Monday morning.

Celia Barquin Arozamena was playing a round in central Iowa when she was allegedly attacked by Collin Daniel Richards. Source: Associated Press


'What’s up Muzza' - is it weird to call your parents by their first name?

What do you call your parents - mum and dad, or Geoff and Pam?

The idea some people call their parents by their first name was a hot topic on Breakfast this morning, with Hayley Holt saying it was a bit weird calling her parents by their given names.

‘I’d feel a bit odd, ‘hey Robin, what’s up Muzza?’”

Many viewers said calling parents by their given names was disrespectful, with one viewer saying she had earned the title of mum.

Another said when children were older, it could be a discussion families could have together.

Newsreader Scotty Morrison said in Te Reo Māori there were “beautiful terms” for older members of the whanāu.

“As our people get older they get more and more respect because of the life they have had, the life experience, the knowledge that they’ve gained," he said. 

“It’s important in Māori culture to have that respect for the older generation.”

Some Breakfast viewers thought it was disrespectful not to be called mum or dad. Source: Breakfast


Topics