SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – San Francisco-based social media startup Skout has suspended access to its teen community after several teenage members were allegedly raped by adults posing as minors.

Skout is a smartphone app that promotes flirting between adults based on their location. Last year, the San Francisco company launched a teenage version of Skout.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

But on Tuesday, the company blocked access to the teenage community after at least three men posing as juveniles were charged with raping teens they met through Skout.

“This is a very sad and tragic occurrence but fortunately, it’s pretty rare in the world of social networking,” said KCBS Technology Analyst Larry Magid, who also sits on the Facebook Safety Advisory Board.

He said part of the problem is that Skout is location-based, using the GPS technology in smartphones.

“If the person has turned on the location option, their whereabouts is known,” said Magid.

In a blog post from Skout Founder and CEO Christian Wiklund, he said “the safety of our community is our #1 concern and our commitment to safety remains.” Wiklund also said that the only possible thing to do following the charges was to shut down the under-18 community “until the company can design better protections.”

In April, Skout received a strong vote of confidence in the form of a $22 million investment from Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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