MeetMe has been sued by a San Francisco City Attorney, who claims the site helps sexual predators target minors.
Dennis Herrera filed a lawsuit that says MeetMe violates California law for inadequate privacy protections and for publishing the location and personal information of users as young as 13.
Herrera said in a statement:
“MeetMe has become a tool of choice for sexual predators to target underage victims, and the company’s irresponsible privacy policies and practices are to blame for it.
“Anyone – including sexual predators, stalkers and other criminals – can sign up to use the MeetMe app and can input any birth date they want, and once they do, MeetMe enables them to browse through photographs, locations and other personal information of teenagers who are in close physical proximity.”
The prosecutor said a quarter of the site’s 40m members are between 13 and 17.
The suit claims “legally invalid consent” is required from these members to collect and distribute real-time location and personal information, which violates California’s Unfair Competition Law.
Although MeetMe’s CEO Geoff Cook said the company could not comment on pending litigation, they released a statement, which said:
“We care deeply about the safety of all of MeetMe’s users. We review hundreds of thousands of photos posted to our services every day, and we compare the information provided by our users to a sex-offender registry.”
The San Francisco City suit claims otherwise: “Upon information and belief, MeetMe does not engage in any such cross check to prevent sex offenders from utilizing the app and accessing geolocation data of millions of minors.”
MeetMe’s statement also said that they “employ a 24-7 team that responds to reports from our users and work closely with law enforcement when appropriate to assist in their investigations.”
The lawsuit cites the case of 29-year-old man from Citrus Heights, California, charged with multiple counts of sexual acts with a minor, who used sites including MeetMe to engage in “sexting” relationships with underage girls.
It also makes reference to a 21â€yearâ€old Fair Oaks, California, man charged with having sex with two girls – aged 12 and 15 – after posing as a 16â€yearâ€old boy on MeetMe.
Herrera’s suit, filed by his Consumer Protection Unit, is seeking the social network site to stop these unlawful practices in California, and to pay $2,500 in civil penalties for each violation.
Read the full suit here.