Concerns Growing Over Smartphone App & Bullying
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Some local teens say they’re depressed, even suicidal because other kids are using a free phone application called “SimSimi” to harass them.
The app is supposed to make you laugh, but it has some teenage girls crying and worse.
It’s fast and furious fingers flying over keypads on cell phones. Teenagers typing messages almost as fast as they can talk; today’s texting target, a smart phone app with a dark side called “SimSimi.”
“They called me a fat whale and told me to go kill myself with an explanation point. Just told me to go kill myself.”
That was just the start for 15-year-old Jessica.
KDKA Investigator Marty Griffin reports that three teenage girls say they have been beaten up by “SimSimi.”
Ironically, the free application downloaded onto a cell phone gained worldwide publicity as an artificial intelligence program that allows you to have fun conversations with a digital friend.
Engaging the computer program is as simple as saying hello.
That’s where the app can get nasty. Because it’s anonymous, because there are millions of users, anyone can type in any name and use the cute little “SimSimi” app as a bully platform.
Bullying forced two girls out of school; knowing they can’t get to her in the hallways or classroom, they now reach out to 14-year-old Nicole through “SimSimi.”
One “SimSimi” message was posted by a teenage girl on the brink: “I seriously hate this app. I am seriously considering killing myself because of the things people say here about me.”
KDKA’s Marty Griffin reports that many of the messages seen on the cell phones of just three teenage girls were so hate-filled and vulgar that they can’t be shown on television.
“SimSimi” has become so volatile that the app has been banned in some countries, including Thailand.
The last to know about any of this are parents like Deb Meehan who doesn’t know how to stop it.
“The girls nowadays are just vicious. They just don’t care,” she said. “They think they can get away with it, and they are.”
If state police have their way, they won’t.
“I don’t know exactly what they’re thinking. It’s recorded somewhere,” said one investigator. “If there’s anything criminal in it, we’re [going to] look into it.”
State police are ready to take on this case if the girls being threatened are willing to file complaints.
Meanwhile, following complaints from around the world, “SimSimi” has issued warnings on the app telling folks who abuse it they can be prosecuted.