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