Ideas & Insights
Number One App YOLO Sparks Many Questions

There is a brand-new viral app for teenagers. It is called YOLO, and it has skyrocketed to the top of the U.S. app charts just one week after it was launched. But not everyone is in love with it. Some worry that it may be susceptible to abuse. Built upon the Snapchat's Snap Kit platform, which allows app developers to integrate their apps with Snapchat, YOLO authenticates users through Snapchat. It also uses Bitmoji profile images so that users can add an "ask me anything" sticker to the Snapchat stories that they post.

It works like this: once a story is posted, friends of that user can ask this user an anonymous question through the app, which the user can then answer back through the use of another sticker. Supposedly, this is all the rage at high schools at the moment.

The app is eerily similar to Sarahah. Back in 2017, this app became very popular for a short period of time. It also allowed users to ask anonymous questions through Snapchat. But by the beginning of the following year, it was gone, as both Apple and Google removed it because they believed that it allowed bullying.

Though YOLO is attempting to avoid Sarahah's fate. It is doing this through a pair of methods. First, when users register the app, the app warns them that abusing others or posting objectionable content will not be tolerated on the platform. The app also contains both flagging and blocking features for when users encounter either abuse or objectionable content.

In spite of YOLO's attempts to control bullying and other forms of abuse, some believe that is just as susceptible to it as other apps of its kind. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in the United Kingdom is one organization that believes this. They think that Snapchat should pay close attention to the app and be prepared to take action if necessary. They also think that the age rating for the app is way too low. Currently, the app is rated at 12+.

Part of what it driving YOLO's popularity is the fact that is so easy to use. Because it is built upon Snap Kit, users do not have to create new profiles or images. All this gets imported from Snapchat, along with their Bitmojis, and they just start asking questions of each other. Still, the app's incredible rise is a testament to just how much teenagers crave both feedback about themselves and gossip about others.

The craziest part of YOLO's success is that it is all by accident.

YOLO's developer Popshow was little known before now. It was started by Gregoire Henrion, who had previously created Mindie, which is an app that let Snapchat users share music video clips to their stories. In 2015, it raised more than $1 million in investment capital, but Snap subsequently blocked it because it violated the company's privacy rules.

Henrion insists that the company had no intention of creating a viral app with YOLO. He says that they made it simply so that their team could learn the new platform. But now they are having trouble keeping their servers up and running, which is a problem that most app developers could only dream of having.

The company did not even do much in terms of marketing the app. They just posted it and it took off all on its own. Though, given the fickle nature of teenagers, the question is how long will they be able to keep up their meteoric success.

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