Apple, Google remove dating apps FTC said could expose children to predators

Apple, Google remove dating apps FTC said could expose children to predators
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Apple and Google this week removed a trio of dating apps after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said they could put children at risk of exposure to predators.

Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store removed Meet24, FastMeet, and Meet4U after the FTC warned last week that they could be violating federal children's privacy standards, the agency announced Monday.

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Wildec LLC, the Ukrainian company that operates the three dating apps, said in a statement to The Hill that it immediately addressed the potential FTC violations after it was notified on May 1, and is hoping Google and Apple will return its apps to their stores.

"We immediately reacted on FTC requirements and fixed all the issues, including removing all data from under age accounts," a spokesman for Wildec said, adding that "registration is not possible anymore" for underage users.

The FTC said the apps allowed children under the age of 13 to sign up and participate, in violation of a law that requires companies to obtain parental consent before collecting personal information on children who aren't teenagers.

The three apps collected personal data including birthdays, email addresses, photographs and real-time location, according to the FTC. The children were allowed to use the apps and receive communication from other users.

"In its review of the apps, FTC staff found users who indicated they were as young as 12," the agency said in Monday's announcement. "Allowing adult users to communicate with children poses a serious health and safety risk."

Individuals have already faced criminal charges for allegedly contacting minors using the apps in question.

Wildec said the apps were removed on May 2, and they have now fulfilled "all FTC requirements" and "hope to get our apps back to the stores soon."

Apple and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Hill.

Updated at 5:44 p.m.