Some porn sites–which can be liable for purveying obscene material to minors–require customers to enter credit card information or driver’s license numbers. Hot or Not has not, so far, been implicated in the Anderson case, and precedents suggest that it wouldn’t be found liable anyway.
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Though Facebook ostensibly bars children under the age of 13, birthdays are self-reported and millions of its users are thought to be underage.
One study last year found that half of children 10 and under were on social networking sites.
He’ll have to keep his distance from places where children might gather, like schools and parks. There is no excuse for this whatsoever,” one judge is quoted as saying.
(Out-of-bounds residences now include his parents’ house.) During his five-year probation, he won’t be allowed to access the Internet–a particularly painful mandate for Anderson, who’s an aspiring computer scientist. Anderson’s case raises questions not only about whether the restrictions on convicts are out of proportion and whether consensual sex between teenagers should be criminalized, and it also renews the debate about whether dating apps–particularly sites like Hot or Not, which is geared toward teens–might take stronger measures to verify users’ ages.
Last year, 52-year-old William Saponaro–after being sentenced to 20 years in prison for having sex with a 13-year-old Grindr user–sued the app for allowing the victim to misrepresent his age, and failing to enforce its own age restriction policies (under-18-year-olds are supposed to be barred from the site).
In March, a federal court found Grindr not liable in the case.
Neither the girl nor her mother wanted Anderson to be prosecuted, and the judges quoted in the Times piece seem more interested in punishing Anderson for pursuing casual sex and using the Internet as a dating tool than determining whether he belongs on a list of pedophiles. A spokesman for Hot or Not told Women in the World that users between the ages of 13 and 17 can’t interact with or even see the profiles of 18-and-older users–though the girl was posing as a 17-year-old when she and Anderson connected.
(The company did not respond to Women in the World’s question about that.) “Users can only sign up to Hot Or Not via their Facebook, so this is used as a first step to verify their ages,” a spokesman said in an email. Hot or Not, like Tinder and Hinge, imports users’ date of birth from Facebook.
According to this Simple Texting survey shared exclusively through Bustle, finding marriage on dating apps is more common than you would think.