New app checks friend requests for registered sex offenders

Who’s asking to be your friend on Facebook?

It’s a concern for many people who use the popular social media website. It’s a bigger fear for parents whose children communicate online.

The wide spread concern struck a chord for New York resident Joe Penora. He launched an Android app and mobile website in March called Friend Verifier.

The app allows Facebook users to cross check friend requests against the national sex offender registry.

The app is accessible on mobile phones, tablets and the XBOX 360. 

While the app has received good reviews, it’s also been criticized for accuracy. Until recently, the app could only crosscheck names on the sex offender registry, which resulted in several false identifications.

This week, the app was re-launched with a color coded system, that uses birthdates and locations to verify accuracy.

“You just click on that person’s name and you can see their sex offender information,” Penora says.

Ross Garrett, co-founder of Mobelux.com, a Richmond based company that creates apps, says users should still use caution.

“You could get accurate information, you might not get accurate information, that’s the gamble you take.” Garrett says.

Garrett says Apple is more selective than Android when approving apps. He recommends that users confirm their findings by checking government websites or individual state sex offender registries. 

“Do research yourself,” Garrett advises.

Penora says 98% of the feedback he’s received from Friend Verifier users has been positive

A request to Apple, so users can download the app on their iPhones, is currently being reviewed by the company. Apple receives 26,000 app submissions weekly.

Penora says he’s confident the app can provide families with an extra safeguard when it comes to accepting friends online.

 

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