W Anonymous App
Over the last week a lincolnshire Online safety advisor had a couple of schools ask about an app called 'W'. He had to do a little bit of digging and found there is very little information apart from the fact that it is an anonymous poll app.
He decided to install the app onto his phone and what he found is concerning. He inputted a false name and gave his age as 51, at which point the app used the GPS on the phone to show all the primary and secondary schools in my local area, as well as how many students in those schools were signed up, and the app then allowed him to connect to 'my school', as a 51 year old!! Notably, the primary schools seemed to have more users than the secondary schools.
You are then invited to allow access to contacts on your phone (which he didn't do), at which point you can then start taking part in polls.
- The Terms state that you have to be 13 to use the app. There are no age verification or assurance processes.
- The app only works with notifications turned on, and there are A LOT of notifications.
- Polls can be shared on Instagram and Snapchat (the website also refers to TikTok but that isn't available in the app).
- Without taking part in any polls, he was receiving notifications stating that someone had picked me in a poll.
- When you have completed a poll you are invited to play again, but you have to either wait an hour or invite friends, which means giving access to your contacts and sending an alert to others. This creates curiosity (what am I missing out on?), it is persuasive design at its worst and is the means by which the company are gaining traction quickly.
- You can send anonymous voice memos and create anonymous polls.
- At 23:50pm on Saturday evening he got a notification stating "this is the most active time for Year 6-8 students'.
- On their FAQ page Slay (the developers from Berlin) state:
- We only let friends, contacts and classmates vote for each other. Never strangers. Yet he was able to sign up to a school.
- We do not allow adults to join schools. Yet he signed up as a 51 year old and chose a school.
Please check your children's devices for this app!
You can view the app web page HERE.