Teen social media app used by Texas school shooter updates safety guidelines

Yubo, a social media platform that users said the gunman in the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting used to make threatening remarks, released updated safety guidelines on Tuesday.

The platform targeted for teens is broadening its risk-detection policy, enhancing user-reporting capabilities, testing audio-moderation technology and deploying a new algorithm-based detection system, the company said in a blog post. 

“The devastating events of 24 May in Uvalde, Texas, brought to light systemic issues in society that need to be addressed. We are dedicated to doing our part by identifying and implementing safety solutions to the Yubo platform,” Yubo CEO Sacha Lazimi said in the blog post. 

The update comes following numerous reports that Salvador Ramos, the 18-year-old gunman who was killed by law enforcement after fatally shooting 19 students and two teachers at Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School last month, exchanged messages on the platform with users saying he was going to “shoot up” an elementary school, showing off his gun and threatening to rape girls.

Users also said they reported Ramos’s account to Yubo but he was able to remain on the platform, according to reports. 

Last month, a Yubo spokesperson confirmed the company was cooperating with law enforcement and investigating a since-banned account. 

Teen users told CNN that despite safety policies in place on Yubo at the time, Ramos made threatening remarks and remained on the platform. One user, 19-year-old Amanda Robbins, told the outlet Ramos verbally threatened to break down her door and rape and murder her during a livestream.

After reporting him several times and blocking his account, she continued to see him in livestreams making lewd comments, CNN reported. 

Part of Yubo’s updated policies will allow users to attach up to four media files, including screenshots or video recordings, to any reports they submit. The update, set to launch “this summer,” will provide “greater context to Yubo team members tasked with reviewing reports and taking action accordingly,” Lazimi wrote. 

The platform has also broadened its policy to review content and act on infractions based on more “stringent laws and regulations” around sexual harassment, hate speech, weapons, violence and other risks, Yubo’s CEO wrote.

“Previously, our response to content related to these risk areas was determined by corresponding laws in the region where the content was posted. We feel it is in all users’ best interest that we apply more severe standards to content review and intervention across the board,” Lazimi wrote. 

Since the deadly shooting, the company has launched audio-moderation technology as well. The technology is being tested for English-speaking users, and the company aims to expand it to additional languages. 

At the end of May, the company also deployed a new algorithm-based detection system that it had been developing for six months. The algorithm “aggregates and assesses a combination of signals,” such as keywords, emojis and images, “to evaluate content with context.” 

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