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Anonymous messaging app Kik will be shutting down on September 27 to focus its efforts on fighting for the survival of its sister crypto-currency company, Kin. From tomorrow – a decade after its introduction – Kik’s 300 million users will need to migrate to an alternative service.

Though many have been calling for its ban for years now, CEO Ted Livingstone announced that Kik will be shutting down to focus its efforts on building a “Kin Ecosystem” in a battle against the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The SEC released a statement in June stating Kin sold crypto tokens to the public and investors, raising a total of $100 million, with nothing to purchase. Livingstone fears losing Kik will have a negative impact on its 200 million Kin users, but fails to mention the effect this will have on the Kik community.

Sexual encounters and sexual abusers

Kik is infamous for being a platform for sexual encounters – largely due to it being a free and encrypted service that doesn’t require phone or name verification. This allowed users to anonymously chat, share images and provide sexual services with other Kik users, and within Kik public groups, without connecting it to an individual.

Used as a more discrete WhatsApp, Kik has been popular within the kink community, protecting people’s identities from being linked to perhaps more taboo fetishes. Sex workers are also concerned how the closure might impact their income. Some find it has been a good source of income in comparison to other platforms like Twitter.

One anonymous Kik user told SEXTECHGUIDE that they “used it to prove people were real from sex apps.” It worked because “if you sent a picture on the app it came up with ‘live’ underneath” meaning the photo, most likely a nude, was not forged.

As an anonymous messenger, with no trace, you also have zero protection and can be vulnerable to strangers. With 40% of American teenagers and pre-teens using the app, the public groups became a marketplace for sexual abusers.

The BBC reported that since 2013 more than 1,100 child sexual exploitation investigations have taken place, and Forbes wrote in 2017 that “Kik hasn’t even been deleting the profiles of individuals charged and convicted of child abuse offences”.

As we saw with Tumblr app’s connection to child sex abuse claims, the common theme seems to be censorship, or just giving up on the community entirely. Twitter is demanding sex worker’s phone numbers, which has been considered a breach of privacy.

While anonymity can be great for the sex workers and kink community to express themselves and find like-minded individuals, it is also great for those who wish to abuse minors.

Kik is dead: What are the alternatives?

With 300 million Kik users left out in the dark, people are turning to Twitter to find viable alternatives. Some have suggested Whatsapp, Discord, MeWe and Telegram.

Read Next: Dating app Waves aims to make kink more accessible

Oli Lipski
Oli is a freelance sex tech researcher based in London. With an MA in Sexual Dissidence, researching sex tech, and a BA in History, researching gender and sexuality, she has a keen understanding of the past, present and future of sex.

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