If You’re A Parent You Had Better Know Qoohme
This post was originally published in June 2012. Nothing seems to have changed. Qoohme still remains a platform that assists in the distribution of anonymous hate and hurt. I have no idea how it has continued to exist? My best advice is that you don’t allow your children to be on Qoohme. You’re the adult, you’re the parent. You pay the cell phone data bills each month. It’s very easy actually. Want to keep that phone? Let’s agree that there’ll be no Qoohme. It really is that easy.
The other thing to understand is that Qoohme is probably mostly or completely funded by advertising on their site via at least Google Display Network. I wonder if putting pressure on them (Google and the Advertisers), one can help to reduce revenue and ultimately shut down their site? See the bottom of the post for examples two advertisers who have had adverts placed on on Qoohme by Google Display Network.
I wrote to both of the advertisers and had an official response from one of them. Again, see the bottom of the post.
Original Post in 2012: Have you heard of Qoohme? If you’re like me you probably haven’t. I only found out about it last week. Via my child’s school. There was a meeting with some of the older children to talk about the dangers of such a site. Here’s how Qoohme describes itself:
Qooh.me is a social site that allows people who find you interesting to ask you anonymous questions so they can know you better. Your replies will appear on your main profile only if you answer the question you get asked. IT’S ADDICTIVE!!
I have no issue with the concept of Qoohme It might be a clever-ish platform (it’s not that clever in 2017) developed by a 23 year old South African, based on similar sites in Europe and the US. According to TechCentral:
Hazyview, Mpumalanga-based Vincent Mabuza, 23, is a candidate attorney with a passion for technology. He’s started a service called Qooh.me that allows users to ask one another questions anonymously. Launched in May, the service is enjoying explosive growth and already has more than 170 000 registered users.
Users can limit their replies to questions to Qooh.me, or share them on Facebook and Twitter. Mabuza says Qooh.me makes it easier for people to get to know more about each other, beyond the information they post on their social media profiles.
My concerns all revolve around the fact that children have open non-supervised access. Here are my issues with Qoohme in this regard:
- There’s no age restriction. Children’s profiles sit alongside adult profiles. In an environment where people can ask each other anonymous questions, it doesn’t take much of an imagination to think through the sorts of questions being asked. I don’t want my child exposed to some of what I had open and unfiltered access to. If I had it, my child has it.
- There’s no log-in required to ask questions. All you need to know is the person’s username. So when things get out of hand or inappropriate (Qoohme knows this happens hence the ‘suggestion’ on their site… “Have fun and keep it clean!!! The aim is NOT to spread gossip or bully and harass people”) there’s no recourse, no ability to ban users, no way to find out who’s said what.
- While I’m quite sure Qoohme knows that abuse happens on their site (why else would they ask people to ‘keep it clean’?) they don’t seem to have taken any action to ‘police’ things on their side. They’re leaving this responsibility to the users (of whom they have no ability to track or manage).
What to do as a parent?
- Gently bring up Qoohme in a conversation with your child. You need to know if they’re aware of it, and if they’re using it?
- Stay calm. Remember growing up? When your parents weren’t calm dealing with sensitive issues, it only made you want to investigate even more.
- Keep in mind that children ask each other questions all the time. Sometimes they’re even a little inappropriate to adults, but it’s part of growing up. The issue here is that it’s in an open and very public environment, so when things go wrong they have the potential to go very wrong.
- Help your children to understand that the real world and the digital world have the same set of rules. Just because it’s digital doesn’t mean it’s not real or doesn’t have very real consequences. Tell them a story of your own experience where you said things you regretted, or someone said hurtful things to you growing up. We’ve got to help our children navigate this very new digital world we never had to deal with growing up. We can’t, as adults, put our heads in the sand because we’re awkward in this space. You’ve got to get educated and involved.
- Certainly the outcome you need to aim for is that your child sees the dangers of Qoohme and doesn’t go near it. Certainly not until it works out it’s privacy and control issues.
Sites like this are dangerous for Children and Teens
Any open access to children (especially in a digital world) creates wide open opportunities for adults to take advantage of children. I’m not suggesting that Qoohme is promoting this and creating a platform for this to happen. Personally I think the people behind Qoohme just haven’t done enough thinking through their platform and the ramifications of their lack of controls. I do hope they make the necessary changes to protect children.
I’ve written to Qoohme and voiced my concerns asking them to respond. I’ll post them should I get one.
** It’s been 5 years and Qoohme have never responded to me
Old Mutual and Moyo Adverts on Qoohme
Recently a parent sent me these two images. They’re screen shots. What’s more important than the despicable comments, is the advertising from Old Mutual and Moyo that appear underneath the comments. I’ve asked for comment from both companies and will let you know, should they do so….. (Moyo has responded and their response is under these images)
I asked Moyo and Old Mutual for a response. Moyo responded and here’s what they had to say…..
Dear Mr. Bramley
Thank you for your email dated 8 May 2017 and for bringing this important matter to our attention. We wish to place on record that moyo does not condone or support bullying in any manner or form whatsoever.
One of the methods we use to advertise our brand online is through Google ads and we have an appointed marketing agency that handles this on our behalf. Our marketing agency is allocated with a budget to advertise with Google and provides Google with a list of site category exclusions where the ad is not to be displayed. We have excluded all defamatory, abusive, obscene, threatening, racially offensive, pornographic, sexually explicit sites.
Google then uses a sophisticated algorithm to place the ads on various sites. Unfortunately, an advertiser cannot control the websites on which its ad appears other than to try provide a generic list of exclusions, which we duly did. From time to time an advert may inadvertently appear on an unsuitable site as in this case. Furthermore, we are not responsible for the ads that appear on any site, such as Qooh.me, and likewise we cannot be associated and/or liable for the unlawful and/or defamatory content published on sites where our ads appear.
We wish to point out that the google ads displayed to the parent who sent you the images, would be based on the parent’s and/or child’s interests and the types of websites the parent and/or child would have previously visited. We have blacklisted Qooh.me so that our ad will never appear on their platform again.
In light of the above we request that you immediately rectify the statements made against moyo to reflect the true situation in that we were not in any way involved or responsible for advertising on Qooh.me, failing which we shall take all necessary steps to protect our reputation.
National Marketing and Sales Support Specialist
So who should be held responsible for advertising placement? Is Google Display Network responsible, or are the advertisers responsible?
Barrie is a business keynote speaker, specialising in Future Thinking, Change, Disruption, Creativity and Generational Theory