With more than 1 million users, Spotafriend is marketed on the iPhone App Store as “the world’s hottest teen app!”
It allows teens to swipe through photos of others near them. If users on both ends swipe right, it’s a match — allowing them to chat privately.
“Spotafriend is not a teen dating app, it’s the new way to make friends,” its website reads.
But the app, intended for young people between the ages of 13 and 19, comes with potential dangers.
Last month, a 14-year-old girl from Oceanside was a victim of sex crimes committed by someone she met through Spotafriend, authorities said. The suspect turned out to be 21-year-old man. Police said he created a fake profile, posing as a 17-year-old boy.
The case underscores the risks of apps like Spotafriend and sets off alarm bells for Oceanside police.
“It’s very alarming,” said Oceanside police spokesman Tom Bussey. “It’s very easy for kids to get on and talk to each other.”
“All kinds of things can happen,” he added. “You don’t know who’s on the other end.”