One of the most popular & controversial teen apps has changed its name. Here's what you need to know.

When an app changes its name without any press release, media campaign, or statement other than a reference “formally known as” – it’s never for a good reason.  App companies spend fortunes and massive amounts of time behind closed doors debating an app name. After all, it’s the single most important decision on defining your app. 

When the Yellow app was first released there was a lot of fanfare, including robust site detailing its founders’ story and an easy way for the press to contact them. Now, however, there is virtually (and literally) nothing – hmmm. 

If you remember your high school English, in Hamlet there was the famous phrase in Act 1, Scene 4 when Marcellus says, "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark." Well in this case, something is rotten in the country of France, since that’s where the app developers live. 


Why Change the Name of an App?

There are usually two primary reasons when an app has a name change.

  1. The company has come up with a better name that defines the purpose of their app better. 
  2. An app has bad reviews and needs a fresh start. 

Does the new name define the Yubo app better? No. Did Yellow have bad reviews? Yes, hundreds of them from concerned parents and cyber safety experts.


What Exactly is Yubo (formerly known as Yellow)?

The Yubo app is rated as 12+ and has over 15 million users worldwide. It was created and marketed as an app for teens to connect for relationship or friendship, though previously it’s been called by many reviewers as “Tinder for Teens” due to the ability to swipe for matches with strangers.

Here’s an interesting factoid; the original Yellow app was released just after Tinder changed its policy prohibiting under-age users.

From a user perspective, the set-up process only takes a few minutes and could not be simpler:

  1. Enter your phone number & a verification code is texted to your phone.
  2. Upload a selfie photo.
  3. Enter your name and age.
  4. If your GPS is on, it automatically detects your location.
  5. A few introductory tutorial slides show you how to use the app to get matches by either swiping left or right. (If two users swipe right, it’s a match and then you can connect to exchange messages, more photos, or even start a video chat.)


The Differences Between Yubo and Yellow

There are a lot of new features that if, as a parent, you were originally alarmed with Yellow, you should be searching your child’s phone to make sure they have not downloaded the Yubo app.

  • Live streaming

Users can now live stream with their “friends”, but the live stream creator can also be seen by other random viewers. Who are the other viewers? Good question – I’d love to tell you, but the app protects their anonymity.

  • No longer connects to Instagram or Snapchat

I’m glad feature was removed, but don’t give the app company credit on this one. In their own FAQs on their website they state, “We can’t bring the Snapchat button back, since Snapchat asked us to remove it.”

Wait a minute – so, Snapchat who ideally wants as many people as humanly possible to use their app doesn’t want to be associated with Yubo or Yellow? This requested removal by Snapchat should make a parent want to think twice if this is an app they want on their child’s phone.

  • New safety features

Part of the new safety features offered by Yubo are safety guides for teens and parents provided by the app. In all fairness, this was a good step to take. And while there is some decent information about the lack of control in app sign-up phase, the details about settings, moderation and reporting made me even more concerned after reading their guide.

Part of my job is to understand the pitfalls of dangerous apps, so I am painfully aware that the safeguards they outlined are insufficient compared to other apps.


What Parents Need to Know About Yubo

As a parent of two teens, I was thrilled that neither of my children knew of Yubo, and though they had heard of Yellow, neither of them had downloaded that app to their phone. If you are considering allowing your child to have the Yubo app on their phone, please read my concerns below.

  1. The reporting options are limited to users self-reporting or minimal artificial intelligence detection tools.
  2. While the guidelines require users to upload a real photo as their profile image, there is no third-party verification process to ensure that picture is really you. In many adult dating apps, an account connects with a user’s Facebook account, so any image is at least vetted through another social media account.
  3. There is minimal age verification when creating an account, with users only required to enter a birthdate within the age range of 13-17.
  4. The app store states that Yubo may contain “infrequent/mild sexual content and nudity”.


As parents, we need to know which apps our kids have downloaded. Period. You can either regularly take their phone or install an app, so you can check remotely.

With a tool like Zift, the Digital Parenting Ally, you can see which apps your child has downloaded and block or allow access to those apps by time of day. Then, once you know which apps are on your child’s phone, you can get all the information about those apps by checking out our App Advisor.

About Kristin MacLaughlin

Mom of three, fosters rescued dogs, and is helping to drive the conversation about digital parenting as VP of Consumer Marketing for Zift.

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