iPhone ‘Ugly Meter’ app prompts cyberbullying concerns

Another crass app that’s popular with kids has hit the iTunes App Store, and this one has a bit of “cyberbullying” stigma attached to it.

The app scans iPhone pictures and rates them on a scale of one to ten, with one being more attractive, and ten prompting some insults from the app. Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute in Washington, expressed concerns that the app could be harmful if used by teens or tweens in a school or social setting:

“I can see that the guys who programmed it were having a bit of fun and all,” Balkam said. “If you’re 25, 26 or 28, this sort of thing could be quite funny or amusing. But in the hands of a 14- or 15-year-old, it could be quite the reverse, and particularly if someone is submitting someone else’s photograph and then circulated that photo around school. For impressionable young teens and tweens, it could potentially be quite damaging,” he said. “It could be used in cyberbullying.”

Eugene Overline, one of the apps creators, pointed out that if children plan on being cruel to their peers, the app won’t stop that behavior. Also, he grudgingly admitted that he scored a very ugly 8.7 on his own app.

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