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Police warn parents of concerns with Cake live stream video chat app

Kingston Police and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection have partnered to alert parents about the app Cake through the Cybertip.ca program. With a significant volume of sexual content, Cake poses risks for teens.

It is listed on the Google Play app store as “cake- live video chat dating” and is rated Mature 17+. On Apple iOS platforms, it is called “Cake — Live Stream Video Chat” or “Cake.TV live video chat.” 

The app description invites users to “Discover, meet and connect instantly and video chat with ladies and guys in real-time.” Users can video chat with random users, use anonymous chat rooms, and live public broadcast rooms. Cake advertises that users can “Earn cash rewards for broadcasting.”

Kingston Police cited four main concerns: 

  1. The app’s content is primarily sexual in nature

A recent experiment showed that in less than 12 hours of creating an account, four unsolicited messages with sexual content were received, including a sexually explicit video from a male user. Sections of the app include the “Hot List” and “Top Cakers” where the top 10 profile pictures are exclusively young females, most of whom are in provocative poses. The profile picture that was used in the experiment was NOT sexually suggestive.

  1. Teens can connect and share videos with anyone, which increases the risk of sextortion

Cake’s one-on-one video chat encourages users to connect to people they don’t know in “Go Private Random.” They can also join private chat rooms or public broadcast rooms. This creates opportunities for individuals to seek out youth and gradually manipulate them into sharing sexual images or videos, which can be captured as screenshots or video without your teen ever knowing.

  1. Live streaming videos earns users cash value, which encourages risk-taking behaviour

The app encourages users to share live video broadcasts and to video chat with new people by rewarding them with “diamonds,” which can be exchanged for cash value. Users can also earn “diamonds” from others by completing specific requests made by users watching the live stream and broadcasting parties. This may encourage teens to take risks like talking to people they do not know, who can ask them to perform tasks that may progress to being sexual in nature.

  1. No enforcement of minimum age requirement means younger kids are using Cake

While the Cake app is intended for users who are at least 13 years old, this is buried in the Terms of Use and is not enforced, even when a new user enters a birth date indicating they are younger than 13.

Kingston Police advised parents that children under the age of 13 should not be on Cake.

“The highly sexual nature of the app also raises questions about why youth need to use it at all,” Kingston Police said, recommending that parents have conversations with their teens about choosing a more appropriate app for live streaming with their friends and the risks of live streaming, including that anyone watching can capture a screenshot or video without them knowing.

Police also recommended that parents encourage teens to talk to you about strange or uncomfortable moments they encounter while emphasizing that it is never too late to come to their parents for help, even if they have made a mistake.

If teens are going to use the app, parents can mitigate risks by reviewing the security/privacy settings with their teen and taking the following steps:

  • Select “Discover” in the bottom right corner of the screen and then the settings icon in the top right corner.
  • For the “Profile Visible” setting, select “Hidden” so your teen is not visible to all users.
  • For the “Private Call” setting, select “Not Accept” so your teen does not get calls from unknown users.

Parents can further minimize safety risks on their teen’s Cake app by reviewing their teen’s “Friends,” “Followers,” and “Following” lists, and have them delete any users they don’t know offline. 

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2 thoughts on “Police warn parents of concerns with Cake live stream video chat app

  • August 27, 2019 at 4:35 pm
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    Hello Newsroom-

    I don’t want to take too much of your time, but want to give you a clear picture of our issue, with your recent article http://www.netnewsledger.com/2019/08/19/police-warn-of-concerns-with-the-cake-live-stream-video-chat-app/ an article highlighting a VERY OLD ISSUE, we feel is very unfair and biased.

    On July 25th 2018 we were made aware of some negative press around our main app, Cake or Cake.tv a live stream video chat app. We traced the source of the negative press to an inaccurate safety warning issued to parents about our Cake app or Cake.tv in Canada, currently this issue is ONLY in Canada 

    The reason we care, this false information is being disseminated as fact by a non-profit out of Canada, that has 65% of it’s funding from the government, and therefor, treated as an agent of authority and operates as a factual resource for parents in Canada. In addition to disseminating false information about our app, they also produced negative propoganda pieces, hosted on YouTube and Facebook, as informational and FACTUAL videos on their pages and channels. As well as, multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Department, tweeted, this false warning about out company. ( this is concerning!)

    I REACHED OUT to multiple media outlets in CA to include our side, but at the end of the day unless this https://protectchildren.ca or Canadian Centre for Child Protection corrects their media release to not include false statements, I fear their word is much more powerful than ours. 

    Background: No one at the center ever made any attempt to contact us prior to the release. I have followed up with them with two emails, requesting them NOT to change their message, but as to include all the facts about our app and our contact info. I was able to talk to the executive director, Signy Arnason, who authorized this piece and spoke on camera, over the phone, and on record, to the Canadian Media about our app. She gave me about 15 minutes of her time before she cut me off and told me this conversation was not productive, and to submit my issues with the release as it stands, and they will “look into it” I did and they never responded.

    My issue here is please ask yourself what their motivation was? They maintains it was produced just to warn parents. My challenge to that is, if you truly wanted to HELP parents get facts, why would an agency spread inaccurate or misleading facts about out company to scare parents. They also obviously spent numerous hours producing pieces on this safety warning on social media and with the press, but no one ever thought it would be more productive to reach out to us immediatly to solve any potential pitfalls and work with us? We actually agree with their message, people under 18 should not be on Cake, or any dating app, but we do NOT support the fact they are spreading false inaccurate information about our company that is resulting in monetary damages and operational downtown.

    To me this is clear, our app was used as the scapegoat to for PR piece for this agency to drum up donations, and not as a true safety warning to parents. If it was a true safety concern, why were we NEVER informed? And why just us? We have a tiny user base in Canada and we don’t make a majority of our money in that country either. So really what was their motive?

    Honestly, this feels like a smear campaign, but I will in good faith trust they were trying to do the right things and have high moral integrity, and again we want to work with them in keeping kids safe.
    Here is our repsonse:

    Dear Canadian Centre for Child Protection Team

    We have reviewed your recent safety alert issued from cybertip.ca, https://www.cybertip.ca/app/en/signup?utm_campaign=sl&utm_term=/alert that disseminated an official media release to the Canadian Press and Police forces across Canada warning parents about the cyber risks to their children on the Cake app.  We want to make sure parents are clear-This app does not support accounts for people under 18 in ANY country, and if anyone sees a child or teen on the cake app, they are encouraged to send a screenshot and submit that photo to [email protected]

    Cake maintains it’s original positon that this app is NOT intended and NEVER has been intended for children or people under 18.

    We have always maintained a self-selected MATURE 17+ app rating in BOTH app platforms, as a clear indicator of the mature theme and content in our community.   We believe this is a clear indication to any parent, in hopes they will setup any proper parental blocks necessary for any device children have access to. 

    However, as app developers, we also understand many parents may not set up parental control; therefore, we go above and beyond the App Stores or any legal requirements to keep kids off the app.   Here are a number of steps taken by the Cake app and Cake.tv:

    Our U.S. Terms & Services make it clear during sign up process that no one 18 and under are allowed on the app. https://www.caking.me/privacy

    Age
    The Service is not directed to children under the age of eighteen (18) and we do not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from children under the age of eighteen as part of the Service. If we become aware that we have inadvertently received personally identifiable information from a user under the age of eighteen as part of the Service, we will delete such information from our records.

    We have always provided a “flag this user” feature for users in the Cake community to report underage users. As well as, answered reports of suspicious underage accounts by various email ands social media accounts.

    The Cake.tv community has also added an additional dedicated email that is ASKING the community to report anyone they suspect to be under age 18, and send the report to [email protected] immediately or to general [email protected] or they can fill out a ticket in the app

    Cake.tv  HAS ALWAYS employed a 24/7 human moderation team to patrol all aspect of our service. All content, including user profile pictures, nicknames, live streams, video, are monitored by our moderators. Cake.tv are trained moderators that visually identify and flag any user who appears to be UNDER 18. Those accounts are then immediately disabled, the devices are permanently banned from Cake, and all account data is deleted.

    In conclusion, in support of your public awareness efforts, we are asking for you to include PROPER contact information, so people have the right information if they see a child on cake.tv; and to remind parents NO one UNDER 18 (not 13 and up) should be on Cake.

    If you have additional concerns about our terms and conditions as a US-Based entity doing business in Canada, we are happy to look at adding additional language for the country of Canada; these concerns can be made official to me and we will have our lawyer review for comment or immediate implementation.

    Thanks again for your time. I hope in the future you will consider working with app developers to make their products safe from kids on all platforms in all countries. We applaud you in your efforts to make all kids safe and disseminate all the fact-checked and correct information available from all resources available; including us.

    ###

  • October 17, 2019 at 8:35 pm
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    The app is clearly for adults only. Any risks associated with this app are on any other livestreaming platform. Minors on the app are not tolerated and users are very quick to report any minors on the app. The discussion should not be about Cake, but the dangers of livestreaming in general. Parents need to take more responsibility for what their children are doing on the internet.

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