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Yubo app allegedly used by Uvalde school shooter rolls out safety update

·2 min read

A social media platform for teens that was reportedly frequently used by the Uvalde school shooter rolled out new safety features this week in response to the tragedy.

"The devastating events of 24 May in Uvalde, Texas, brought to light systemic issues in society that need to be addressed," Yubo CEO Sacha Lazimi wrote in an update on Tuesday. "In the days since, we have been working to accelerate safety developments in our pipeline and further expand the scope of existing safeguards across our platform."

Salvador Ramos, the 18-year-old accused of shooting and killing 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary, was known to post disturbing content on the Yubo app, including threats of "rape and kidnapping and murder," a 17-year-old girl told Sky News days after the shooting.

"People would join lives and be like, 'Oh, hey, look it's Yubo's school shooter," the girl told the news outlet. "He never tried to shut down that nickname, he seemed almost proud of it, you know."

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Lazimi said Yubo has updated its risk-detection policy to "apply more severe standards to content review and intervention across the board."

"Yubo has broadened its policy to review content and act on infractions based on more stringent laws and regulations around sexual behavior and harassment; hate speech; weapons; violence; drugs; and animal abuse, among other risks," Lazimi wrote.

A 15-year-old girl in Germany also met Ramos on Yubo, telling the New York Times that the suspect had been saying in the weeks leading up to the shooting that he had "a secret," then told her on the morning of the shooting that he shot his grandmother and was going to "shoot up an elementary school." It's unclear which messages he sent on the Yubo app, as officials have also said he sent messages about his plans to commit the shooting on Facebook Messenger.

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Yubo also said it is enhancing its user-reporting system, implementing audio-moderation technology, and deploying a new algorithm to detect troubling content.

Social media platforms also came under scrutiny in the wake of last month's shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, which left 10 people dead.

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The alleged shooter, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, allegedly livestreamed the attack on Twitch and kept a journal of his plans on a private Discord server.

"The CEOs of those companies need to be held accountable and assure all of us that they're taking every step humanly possible to be able to monitor this information. How these depraved ideas are fermenting on social media, it's spreading like a virus now," New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told ABC News a day after the shooting.