Holla is a popular social networking app that allows people to connect and video chat with random strangers from all around the world. It comes with live swipe cards and instant video chats which allow users to meet people nearby and hang out with them offline. The app offers both voice chats and video chats along with the regular text chat before users can finally meet up.
And while most of the conversations may stay clean, a number of users have reported widespread profanity on the platform. Several reports also complained about lewd behaviour and nudity on the app.
According to a Washington Post investigation, there have been well over 1,500 complaints that were made against popular social networking apps available on Apple’s App Store. Most of these complaints were based around unwanted sexual approaches, with some of them also targeting children. This was in contrast to how Apple prominently markets the App Store as a safe and trusted place for its users.
A majority of these complaints had to do with popular social media apps that connected strangers in video conversations, also known as “random chat apps". Holla was one of the six apps investigated and it turned out that there have been numerous complaints of unwanted sexual approaches on the platform.
The post was able to identify App Store reviews which had complaints of unwanted sexual content, racism and bullying using a machine learning algorithm. The investigation had scanned more than 130,000 reviews of six random chat apps that were among the top 100 ranked social networking apps by Apple during that month. The Post had gone through over a thousand reviews that had mentions of uncomfortable sexual situations. The social networking apps that were part of the investigation were apps like Monkey, ChatLive, Chat for Strangers, Skout and Yubo.
It was learnt that Holla, along with Monkey, Chat for Strangers and ChatLive, offered roulette-style chats. These are the kind of chats that automatically place users in conversations with other people at random. On the other hand, Skout and Yubo also allowed people to connect with strangers; however, it was found that they provided more control to users over whom they wanted to connect with. Holla app was later removed from the App Store; however, it had promised users that it will be back very soon to offer a better experience to its users.
To provide a better experience for our users, HOLLA won't be available in the App Store for a short period of time. We'll be back very soon! Existing users can still download HOLLA here: pic.twitter.com/LRLgrPTMuf— HOLLA (@chillwithHOLLA) July 31, 2019
As per Phillip Shoemaker, who is former Apple’s director of App Store review, had stated that the entire category of random chat apps or chat roulette was banned during his time with the company. According to someone familiar with Apple’s guidelines, the reason why apps like Holla and Monkey among others were allowed on the App Store was these apps had used certain content moderation and other safeguards.
While the Holla app has been removed from the App Store, it is still available on the Google Play Store and has over 10,000,000 installations.
Image credits: Chill with Holla | Twitter