One of the latest apps to gain a viral audience is tied to Snapchat accounts and helps users meet new friends and connections.
"Hoop" launched late last year but in the past several weeks it's been downloaded over 2.5 million times. What is it and who can use it?
Hoop has been referred to as "Tinder for Snapchat" and even "Tinder for teens." In both app stores, the app is advertised as being for anyone 12+. To me, that suggests 12 years old and older. Why does a 12-year-old or 13-year old for that matter need a dating app?
After setting up an account and using it for a few hours, I think I have a pretty good idea of what this app is all about, or what it could be about for some teenagers.
Users can set up an account and they're asked for their age. Like almost all social media sites and apps, there's no confirmation or proof that the age someone gives is accurate. I set up an account as being a 25-year-old. You must then connect it to a Snapchat account. Users can also change their age at any time.
Like Tinder and other dating apps, users are shown photos of other Hoop users and you can tap the screen to ask for their Snap or Snapchat account. Other users can do the same so your photo is being shown.
To its credit, Hoop does not give up a user’s Snapchat account or information automatically. My Hoop username is not my Snapchat username. No one sees that information or my exact location unless I post it or give it to them.
Browsing through the photos on my screen, most everyone was in the 24-26-year-old age group. There were young women posing in front of their home, at school or work but there were quite a few who posted photos of themselves in thongs or underwear. While some stated they were looking for a relationship or new friends, there were several who posted they were looking for a hookup. A few stated they were looking for sex and asked that you contact them by email or their Snapchat.
I received four requests for my Snap within the first few minutes of opening the account. When I accepted one, I received a Snapchat message of a woman performing a sex act and asking if I wanted videos and photos to contact them by text message.
So while a 13-year-old might be able to control what information they're sharing about themselves, there appears to be no way to keep images and messages from appearing on their phones from other users.
According to Hoop's terms of service, users are forbidden to post content or links including pornography, graphic violence, hate speech or threats and if reported, those accounts will be taken down.