Depop Has a Pedophile Problem

According to an investigation by Business of Fashion, as the user base of Depop, the wildly successful, Gen Z-hypnotizing reselling platform, “has swelled, so have complaints about inappropriate and even predatory [behavior].”

For those who haven’t used it, Depop is something of an Instagram-Grailed mashup, with 16 million users, 90 percent of whom are under 26 (you only have to be over 13 to sign up). And the company’s Gen Z appeal has helped it raise over $100 million.

However, the app isn’t only attracting VCs: as a child safety online policy manager with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children put it, “Depop is precisely the type of platform that attracts pedophiles.”

Through an exhaustive investigation, BoF found “numerous reports of women being inundated with sexual messages,” and the “targets include minors, who told BoF they had been asked for nude photos, personal information, and to perform sexually suggestive activities like wearing clothes before users purchased them.”

Depop, for it’s part, has a “zero-tolerance approach,” and employs a “community experience team” that’s comprised of Depop buyers and sellers that were recruited by the start-up to “monitor complaints and kick users off the platform.” But they also have 16 million users, which is a lot of people to track of.

The company’s COO said users should “both block and report inappropriate exchanges,” which would (technically) lead Depop to take “immediate action, which does include banning users who fail to live up to [their] terms.”

But even with those *ironclad* defenses in place, the story said, “the flow of inappropriate messages continues.” A Reddit forum contains “numerous posts from users discussing traumatic encounters” and there’s “even an Instagram account, Depop Drama, dedicated to troubling messages users have received.”

So how do you clear monsters off a platform that is otherwise both incredibly successful with young people and (genuinely) contributing to a more sustainable fashion landscape? Experts say that open messaging needs to be disabled, tougher membership restrictions need to be in place, and corporate responses more impactful.

You can read more about it at Business of Fashion.

[image via]