Parents may not have heard of it, but the Wizz™ app has millions of users and it is important to find out if your child is one of them. Cybertip.ca®, Canada’s tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children, is warning parents and caregivers about the dangers of Wizz and recommending parents consider removing the app from their children’s phones.
What is Wizz?
Wizz is a chat app owned by a Paris-based company that combines features similar to those seen on Tinder® (swiping through profiles), and Omegle®, an online service designed to pair strangers in video chats which was recently shutdown following a lawsuit over child sexual abuse and exploitation.
What should parents be aware of?
Sextortion is when someone is blackmailed with an intimate image to send nudes or money to a predator. Sextorters seek out victims on apps that allow strangers to connect, using accounts with stolen images that trick youth into thinking they are speaking to another teen. Predators may then move conversations onto a platform where images and videos can be shared.
There, a sextorter tricks the youth into sending nudes. This can happen because the predator has created a false sense of security, by sending nudes first (which the victim believes is of the person they are talking to, but are often images of a random teen girl), or pretending to have mutual friends or interests.
Why are we concerned about Wizz?
Cybertip.ca has received 180+ reports concerning Wizz since 2021. Compared to 2022, we received 10 times as many reports about the app in 2023. Reports about Wizz increased faster than any other platform.
Wizz permits users to share information about themselves on their profiles (e.g. location, interests). Reports to Cybertip.ca have shown sextorters leverage their victims’ personal information (e.g. the sextorter sets their location as the same province as their victim, or mentions they like the same sports or games the victim has on their profile). Wizz’s design also allows users to feature their other social media profiles, such as Snapchat, making it easy for users to add each other on different platforms. This feature may lead sextorters from Wizz to teens’ other social media accounts to victimize them.
Use of age verification at registration – doesn’t that make it safer?
Wizz’s “age verification” process appears to primarily be done by applying artificial intelligence to a submitted selfie. This process is known as “age estimation”, and it is far from perfect. Female Cybertip.ca analysts who are 23 and 25 years old went through the facial recognition process and were able to create accounts on Wizz as 16-year-old males.
Also, in many cases those who offend against children and youth are themselves young in age and can access the app, meaning the age estimated-related safety claims by Wizz may provide a false sense of security.
Cybertip.ca recommends all parents and caregivers consider removing this app from their youth’s phone, and talk about the risks the use of Wizz may present to their teens.
Youth can access support, resources, and help with next steps if they have been sexually victimized online at NeedHelpNow.ca.
- 1 N=170 ↩
- 2 N=105 ↩
- 3 Victims between 11 - 14 years old, n= 17. Victims between 15 - 17 years old, n= 110. ↩
The tips and other information provided herein is intended as general information only, not as advice. Readers should assess all information in light of their own circumstances, and any other relevant factors. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience; C3P cannot be responsible for the accuracy of information provided by third parties. All trademarks used are property of their respective owners. Information current as of Feb. 8, 2024.