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Are there risks to using a service like Mbuzzy?


Mbuzzy Profiles, Chatrooms and Secret Stashes

Signing up for Mbuzzy requires very little information. There's no confirmation e-mail, and anyone over the age of 13 is allowed to register, even though the site is aimed at flirtation and romantic connections. This premise is promoted through most of Mbuzzy's features. For example, the profile puts age and gender front and center and displays several user-uploaded pictures and a list of "basics," including body type, marital status, smoke/drink, children, etc. Profiles can be voted on by other users, and "sexy" and "cute" are the most common designations. Users can "crush" on other users and propose relationship statuses like talking, flirting, dating and exclusive.

Users can also send instant messages to one another or participate in public chat rooms themed around various topics. The majority of chat rooms, dedicated to simple defining locations or groups such as "newbies" or "midwest" or "south," are empty. The "flirting" chat room is the most popular. Anyone who visits the site can browse by pictures, but users are able to post "secret stashes" of personal photos on their profiles that are only accessible by other users who pay with currency called "coinz." To get coinz, users have to verify their accounts by registering their phone numbers and downloading the Mbuzzy app.

Despite claiming more than 7 million profiles, Mbuzzy has far fewer active users. Most of the chat rooms are empty and the busy rooms number in the dozens or hundreds of users. If you browse through the profiles highlighted on the front page, you're likely to find many are empty or haven't been updated in years.

None of the information above necessarily conveys a specific risk, but there certainly are risks to using the Mbuzzy Web site, just as there are risks to using any site where you're encouraged to share personal information. At the very least, you could find that someone has misrepresented themselves on the site. And as we mentioned in the introduction, the Mbuzzy smartphone app makes it harder for parents to track who their children are interacting with.


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