The Brief: Reports of inappropriate and explicit content involving minors posted to the app Funimate reveal potential issues with the app's restrictions and content moderation procedures.
Issues with children being exposed to inappropriate content, or inadvertently posting it themselves are recurring on the social media apps that they use. Recently, users and observers of the app Funimate have reported troubling trends that feature kids engaging with sexually explicit content and inappropriate subjects.
In April 2020, several news outlets and YouTube channels reported on the so-called “Foreigner Challenge” which is set to a set of explicit lyrics in Pop Smoke’s “Foreigner.” Videos associated with this trend, which started on Funimate and then spread to TikTok, featured sexually explicit and pornographic images and videos, some of which included children.
On September 1, the YouTuber Drama Kween posted a video about how she’d received reports of and encountered inappropriate and sexually explicit content involving minors on the app, noting how some videos had been up for extended periods of time.
Funimate’s Terms and Privacy policies specifically prohibit content that contains “language, images or video that is determined to be profane, obscene, vulgar or lewd.” Exposing children to inappropriate content also goes against these rules. Terms state that “you must be of legally minimum age (13 years in USA) to create an account on Funimate.” Although this rule exists, there is no verification system beyond asking people for their date of birth, and email addresses don’t need to be verified in order for someone to make an account.
Common Sense Media’s review of the app notes that: “since the developer doesn’t screen user-generated videos or take responsibility for their content, users could be exposed to nudity or suggestive content, bad language, and references to violence, alcohol, and drugs. During the time of review there were videos made by kids who appeared to be under 13, and some were lip synching and dancing provacatively to songs containing the words ‘p—y’ and ‘f–k.'”
Funimate’s advertising, social media presence, and app features appeal and cater to teenagers and children. Instances of explicit content including videos of minors circumventing the app’s content moderation indicate serious issues, especially for an app that is popular among people under age 18. Many apps other than just Funimate have experienced problems with explicit and inappropriate content appearing on their platforms. Age restrictions, effective content moderation, and the circulation of information for young users and their parents all can mitigate these issues and the harmful effects they can have.