Is Likee Safe for Kids? A Security Review of the TikTok Clone

Kid with a smartphone next to the Likee logo, a Wi-Fi shield icon and a padlock
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Quick Guide: Is Likee Safe for Kids to Use?

Likee is a video-sharing app often compared to TikTok. While the official age restriction is 16+, there are no age verifications offered by the app. Teens on Likee are drawn to the idea of going viral and being financially rewarded in return. However, as a result of Likee’s poor privacy protection, the app might do more harm than good.

Here are some key things to keep in mind about Likee:

  • All profiles are automatically public. There is no way to make them private.
  • Your location is automatically shared.
  • The app has an abundance of graphic, sexualized content that is difficult to avoid.
  • It’s way too easy to get into contact with strangers. This can lead to phishing scams and online abuse.
  • Parental controls don’t work.

For this article, we took a deep dive into this app to give parents more information about the app. Read on for our full investigation, as well as advice on how to optimize the privacy settings.

Likee is a social media app that has become more and more popular among kids and teenagers. Like TikTok, Likee allows you to create and post short videos. But unlike TikTok, the content on Likee is primarily mature and graphic in nature.

After conducting research into this app for weeks, we have to conclude that exposure to viral, sexual videos on Likee is unavoidable. The parental controls in the app are entirely ineffective. On top of that, you don’t need an account to get access. Anyone with a phone can become exposed to inappropriate videos.

In this guide, we detail our investigation into Likee and list the risks that come with it, plus how to optimize the few safety settings that exist.

Is the Likee App Safe for Kids?

Signs of online child abuse iconUnfortunately, Likee is not safe for kids at all. In theory, it’s a fun video-sharing platform that lets you browse videos, upload your own posts, and connect with users based on shared interests.

In reality, it’s a privacy nightmare that puts young users in direct contact with strangers and exposes them to adult content without any sort of protective barrier in place.

Likee has risky settings, lacks privacy protection, and hosts an over-abundance of explicit content. On top of that, any parental control options that the app offers are ineffective.

While children must develop their digital literacy skills, an app like Likee won’t teach your children any safe social media skills. In fact, the dangers of Likee go beyond the usual risks that social media can pose to kids (such as cyberbullying, increased stress and anxiety, and a negative self-image).

New social media apps designed specifically for children are introduced each year, such as PopJam. Even YouTube has its own kids’ version, following in the footsteps of Facebook Messenger.

And now Likee has joined the fray.

What is Likee?

Video sharing iconLikee is a Singapore-based app that was initially released in July 2017 under the name LIKE. In 2019, the platform was rebranded and designed, after which it quickly started to climb the ranks.

Because Likee allows you to share and watch self-created videos that can be stylized with filters, text, or music, many are calling it a TikTok clone.

To serve you personalized content, Likee uses smart recommendation technology. You can also search for different hashtags or filter content by location.

Active users can “level up” for things like posting videos, growing their fan base, and opening the app every single day. On top of that, the company also promises celebrity-generated content and opportunities to make money off your videos if they go viral.

Who is using Likee?

During the first quarter of 2020, Likee was the 6th most downloaded app in the world on the Global App Market Index according to leading data and analytics company App Annie. In comparison to 2019, the app saw a 208.3% increase in downloads.

The mobile Likee apps are freely available for Android and iOS. While the peak of Likee’s popularity is behind us, the app still has over 500 million downloads in the Google Play Store.

With 150 million active users globally, the app is incredibly popular, especially among young people across Southeast Asia, Russia, and India — although not without contention.

Controversy: Why is Likee banned in India?

Censorship iconIn 2019, half of Likee’s 330 million downloads were from India, making it one of the fastest-growing apps on the Indian market. One of the reasons for its popularity in India was the fact that the app was available in 15 regional languages.

In June 2020, Likee was banned by the Indian government. Censorship in India is not a recent development and the Likee app, like various others, was banned on vague grounds related to national security.

Generally, we are skeptical of these oppressive censorship tactics. After conducting our own research into Likee, however, we’ve come to a startling conclusion: the app is far worse than we could have imagined.

Our Personal Experience With Likee

Kids and Social Media iconOn the outside, Likee appears to be a fun social media app that allows you to create videos with editing tools such as added filters, stickers, and music. Harmless, right? Unfortunately, no.

In recent years, social media has become increasingly popular among younger users. Experts are worried about teenagers spending excessive time chatting on Discord or posting photos on Instagram. Likee, however, is a different beast altogether.

To get the full picture, our cybersecurity experts spent significant time on the app, taking note of what they encountered. In broad lines, this is what our research addresses.

Research phaseQuestions
Understanding LikeeHow does Likee work? What is required for setting the app up? How safe are the privacy settings?
Testing Likee (14 days)What is the average user experience? Does Likee adapt to user engagement? What do we come across?
Risk assessmentIs Likee safe for kids? What are the risks? What can parents do?

How Does Likee Work?

Like any other social network, Likee has evolved considerably over the years. To determine how risky this video-sharing app might be for younger users, we go over the mechanisms of creating an account, as well as its privacy and default settings.

Creating an account

Account iconThe official age restriction for Likee, as specified in the Privacy Statement, is 16+. In the App Store, however, Likee is categorized as a 12+ app. Strikingly, as soon as you download Likee from the app stores, you can consume content, even without an account.

In previous versions of the app, new users were able to indicate choices for personalized content. This feature has been removed. There is no age verification, either: you can immediately access the Likee feed that’s visible to everyone.

Instantly, it became clear to us that this video-sharing app has no issue showing graphic content.

Screenshot of Likee app, Opening screen

Trying not to assume the worst, we looked through the feed. Unfortunately, all the videos were of the same character. And all of this was visible to us without an account.

To create a Likee account, you can use your phone number, choose to connect Likee to your Facebook, Google, or Apple accounts, or create a new account.

For this last option, you have to choose a username, enter your date of birth, and select your gender. Supposedly, you have to be 16 years or older to get into the uncensored Likee app. If you enter a younger date of birth, you are shown the following message:

Screenshot of Likee app, more appropriate Likee experience window

However, it’s easy enough to enter any date of birth you want. Moreover, as we found out, the “kid-friendly” version of Likee is just as bad as the regular one. Either way, the lack of age verification provides easy access for anyone.

Once you’ve got an account, you are consistently asked to “complete” the process by linking it in one of the following ways, even when you opted out before.

Screenshot of Likee app, Options to link account

There are two important things to keep in mind:

  • Creating an account means you automatically agree to Likee’s terms of service and privacy policy. More about this in the next section.
  • By linking your account to any other account, you give Likee access to all the personal information and contacts that go with it.

This begs the question: how does Likee treat your personal data?

Privacy policy and data management

On paper, Likee’s Privacy Statement clearly indicates that the Likee app is not intended for users under the age of 16. Additionally, you have to be 18+ if you want to use the live streaming services.

Screenshot of Likee app, Privacy policy age

Likee also explicitly states that they comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation for underage user protection. Similar to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in the United States, this law obligates companies to obtain parental consent before they can collect data on minors.

However, as with COPPA, the fact that Likee claims to comply doesn’t keep children off their platform, which means they end up collecting data anyway — and a lot of it, too.

What about privacy iconBy creating a Likee account, a user automatically consents to provide the following information:

  • Profile information, including gender, hometown, self-introduction, social media information, education, and career
  • User-generated content, including comments, texts, messages, pictures videos, code, or any other material that you distribute on the app
  • Facial recognition data (such data will only be processed offline and not be used without explicit consent, nor for marketing or advertising)
  • Your social network contacts, once you activate “Discover Friends,” which is enabled by default
  • Your location, once you consent to location sharing, which is enabled by default
  • Information you provide from third-party social media, once linked to your Likee account

Things get even less privacy-sensitive when it comes to the data Likee collects for your “legitimate interests.” This refers to the algorithms used to serve you video content that you would like to watch.

The official statement details how everything from your browsing history to your device information may be collected and consequently shared with third-party advertisers and analytics companies. And when it comes to third-party trackers, it becomes clear that Likee has no issues sharing your data widely.

App permissions

On top of unsafe data management, multiple risky permissions can be found in the app:

  • CAMERA: take pictures and videos
  • READ_CONTACTS: read your contacts
  • READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE: read the contents of your shared storage
  • RECORD_AUDIO: record audio
  • WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE: modify or delete the contents of your shared storage

While poor privacy protection is not uncommon in social media companies, these permissions — as well as Likee’s default settings — make things even worse.

Default settings

On Likee, users can create short videos, add music, and share them with others. However, every new user’s account is automatically set to public.

On top of that, location sharing is automatically enabled. This means that anyone can see what you decide to post, as well as where you’re located. When there are kids on a platform, this is an instant red flag.

An overview of the default functionalities:

Screenshot of Likee app, Privacy - overview of the default functionalities

As you can see, anyone can message you and comment on your posts, your account is recommended to people, and people are allowed to take screenshots or screen record your content.

While testing out the Likee app, we were shocked to see how graphic all the video content was. With settings like these, children on the app are in no way protected from exposure to adult content or contact with strangers.

Finally, all notifications are enabled by default, including posts from people you follow, new posts from hashtags, comments, message notifications, and more.

Throughout the day, Likee also sends you constant reminders to return to the app. We tested Likee for two weeks straight. Time to take a closer look at what we came across.

Using Likee for 14 Days: What Content is on the App?

For two weeks straight, we took note of what we came across on the Likee app, as well as any issues we ran into that could prove to be risky for kids and teenagers.

Within minutes of testing the app, we’d seen dozens of graphic videos. Shockingly, it didn’t take long for Likee to show us content featuring minors. In the fourth video on our feed, we were shown underage girls posing and dancing provocatively.

While the kids in question can’t be held responsible for this content, it signals the risk of this app right away. Clearly, it’s easy for children to upload this type of content, whether it’s because they are convinced to do so, paid to do so, or simply want to.

Overall, content on Likee falls into the following categories:

  • Lifestyle: Videos related to makeup, clothing, food, etc.
  • Popular culture: Content related to popular TV series or films
  • Miscellaneous: Prank-style videos, filter-heavy videos, and videos that don’t fit clearly in the other categories
  • Sexualized content featuring adults: Examples include adults dancing in sparse clothing, stripping on camera, use of graphic sexual language, and couples kissing on camera
  • Sexualized content featuring children: Examples include children, often young girls, dancing provocatively in front of the camera, using explicit sexual language and asking for tips, and posing sparsely dressed

Over the two weeks, we tracked the content suggested to us. After 14 days, this is the breakdown:

Infographic/pie chart showing what content is on the Likee app

  • Lifestyle: 19%
  • Popular culture: 3%
  • Miscellaneous: 37%
  • Sexualized content adults: 17%
  • Sexualized content kids: 24%

As you can see, Likee gives us an abundance of mature and explicit content. 41% of all content we came across was sexual in nature.

What’s worse is that nearly a quarter of all graphic content (24%) featured children, some as young as ten or eleven years old. This creates a variety of risks that parents should be aware of.

What Are the Dangers of Likee for Kids?

Infographic showing what are the dangers of Likee for kids

A quick Google search of Likee’s app reviews shows that many other people consider Likee to be an unsafe and risky app. We’ve listed the most prominent dangers below.

Inappropriate content

The Likee Community Guidelines state that content that “engages in, promotes, or glorifies sexual seduction or sexual objectification” is prohibited. Additionally, they claim that they are “committed to the safety of minors” and “prohibit the publication of content that puts minors at risk.”

Unfortunately, the For You page tells a different story. As has become clear, there’s suggestive language and sexualized content all over the app, to the extent that it’s actually impossible to avoid it.

On top of that, users can search by hashtag and filter by gender. This puts underage girls at a heightened risk of grooming and being exposed to harmful content.

Easy contact with strangers

When it comes to finding Friends on Likee, you can add them by syncing your contacts from your phone or other social media accounts. However, since it’s impossible to make your account private, any Likee user will be exposed to people they don’t know in real life.

There’s a specific tab in “Messages” that shows other users who have seen your page.

Screenshot of Likee app, messages opening screen

This type of environment is perfect for people who are looking to get in contact with young users. All over social media, online predators are flocking to platforms that are popular among kids and teens. Likee makes it exceptionally easy for them to take advantage of the lack of age verification.

Besides sexual exploitation, continuous interaction with strangers online can also expose individuals to phishing or malware scams.

For kids, the need for validation and the desire to get popular on social media, won’t make them hesitate twice to add strangers to their contact lists. Since Likee has substandard reporting functions, it creates a risky online world.

Financial rewards

Money with coins iconAn additional risk for children is the fact that Likee allows in-app purchases and has a giving/receiving feature that allows users to exchange real money for virtual gifts. Likee refers to this in-app currency as “Diamonds/Beans.”

You can buy them up and send gifts to other users if you like their videos. The exchange rate is currently $1.00 for 210 Beans.

This facilitates pathways for grooming and extortion. Teens on the app may be enticed by the prospect of making some money and not realize the potential consequences of what they post.

Additionally, Likee uses a “level up” system, where the more you share videos, the more followers you have, and the more Diamonds you send and receive, the more recognition you get.

Teens are easily tempted by the promise of going viral, which might lead them to post riskier content than they might be comfortable with.

Parental controls don’t work

In an attempt to give this video app a final chance, we enabled “Parental Controls.”

Likee claims that enabling the parental control feature will filter out inappropriate content and disable private messaging and cash withdrawals. You have to set a passcode and change this every seven days to keep your child from changing the settings.

Screenshot of Likee app, Parental controls disabled

Unfortunately, the parental app made no difference whatsoever. In fact, we got the exact same feed as we did previously.

Screenshot of Likee app, content with parental controls ON

What’s worse is that we could easily change the settings back to normal without ever using the passcode. In other words, this feature is completely useless.

How to Keep Kids Safe on Likee

Infographic showing how to keep kids safe on Likee app

After testing the app for ourselves, it’s become extremely clear that Likee is not an app for kids. We don’t recommend you let your children use it.

However, if you find your children already using it or wanting to create an account, anyway, it’s best to take a few precautions.

1. Use the app first before letting your children try it

If your child wants to be on Likee, make sure you understand how the app works and what the different features are. You can download the app and try it for yourself. That way, you know exactly what to talk to your children about.

2. Practice general internet safety

It’s important that your child develops a degree of independence in their digital life. This is best done by practicing general internet safety.

To improve your child’s online habits, talk to them about privacy concerns, data collection, and what is and isn’t appropriate to post.

Additionally, make sure they understand the risks of talking to people they don’t know in real life. Rather than forbidding them from going on social platforms completely, explain to them how they can do so in a safer way. Build mutual trust.

3. Set boundaries and time limits

You can come to an agreement with your child about how and when they are allowed to use the app. For example, they can only use the app for 20 minutes, and they have to be in the same room as you.

While the screen time specifics depend on your child and your family dynamic, it’s good to try and find a way of using the app that you can both agree on. This is often more effective than outright banning the app.

4. Consider a parental control app

While we don’t always recommend parental control apps due to the way they can make children feel spied on, an app like Likee might require it. It’s best to be open with your child about why you’re using an external parental app to keep an eye on them.

Make agreements about it, and make them feel included rather than monitored. If you want some expert advice, you can check out our article on internet safety tips from various researchers.

How to Change Likee’s Privacy Settings

Share icon, like icon and security shield iconOf course, there are also changes you can make in the Likee app yourself. If your teen insists on using Likee, make sure you optimize the safety settings before you let them use the app.

The table shows our recommended safety settings for Likee.

Hide Location in ProfileEnabled
Don’t Recommend Me to FriendsEnabled
Don’t Recommend My LIVEs to FriendsEnabled
Allow to Set My LINE Status PublicEnabled
Enable Others to Duet with My VideosDisabled
Enable Others to Save My PostsDisabled
Enable Others to Comment on My PostsDisabled
Allow Screenshots or Screen Recording of My Live ContentDisabled

While these recommended settings might seem very limiting, keep in mind that all profiles on Likee are public and that there’s no way to make them private.

If you want to limit the chances of exposing your child to strangers with bad intentions, these are the best settings.

How to delete your Likee account

Finally, you should know that deleting your Likee account isn’t a straightforward process, either. This is why we’ve included a step-by-step to help you out.

Here’s what you need to do to delete your Likee account:

  1. Go to “Settings” and select “Account.”
  2. Screenshot of Likee app, Settings overview
  3. Click on “Delete account.”
  4. Screenshot of Likee app, Account settings
  5. You will now get an overview of the “Terms of Account Deletion.”
  6. Screenshot of Likee app, Terms of Account Deletion
  7. Click “Continue.”
  8. Confirm that you have read and accepted the Likee Account Deletion Agreement. You will be shown a notification that tells you that your account will be deleted within seven days.
  9. Screenshot of Likee app, Confirm Deletion
  10. Click “Confirm Deletion.”

Make sure to check after one week whether this is really the case. If not, you may want to follow up with support.

The Bottom Line: Is Likee Safe for Kids?

Red triangle with white exclamation markLikee has been made out to be a rival of the popular video-sharing platform TikTok. Though TikTok users face different challenges, in our experience, Likee is much more dangerous for kids and teenagers.

Here’s our round-up:

  • The privacy settings are sub-par.
  • It’s way too easy for strangers to get in touch with minors.
  • It’s very difficult to get past the amount of sexual content on the app.
  • Likee also drives users towards in-app purchases and to seek out financial rewards.
  • The parental control tools are absolutely ineffective.

All in all, we can’t recommend Likee as an app for young users. If you’re looking for more information on kids and social media, have a look around our website or check out the FAQ section below. We are always ready to help you out with any concerns you might have.

Is Likee Safe for Kids: Frequently Asked Questions

Would you like to know more about Likee? Or about kids and social media in general? Check out our FAQ below to find some answers. Leave us a comment below if you can’t find what you’re looking for.

Likee is a video-sharing app operated and owned by a tech developer in Singapore. It’s a TikTok clone that’s quite dangerous for kids.

What stands out about Likee is that it’s not possible to have a private account. The default privacy settings make it very easy to get into contact with strangers. Additionally, there is a lot of graphic content on the app.

No, Likee is not kid-friendly. Officially, the app is intended for children over the age of 16. However, since there are no age verifications, it’s possible for anyone to get on the app.

The content on Likee is predominantly sexual and graphic. Even when you activate parental controls, this content is still visible.

Yes, there is a lot of inappropriate content on Likee, involving both adults and minors. The app is not suitable for young users, and parents should take precautionary safety measures if they decide to let their kids use the app.

While Likee and TikTok have very similar features, Likee is a less privacy-sensitive app. On Likee, it’s impossible to have a private account, and you’re consistently exposed to people you don’t know in real life.

Additionally, the content on Likee is less varied than on TikTok: it really is an app that’s overflowing with graphic, inappropriate content.

Here’s how you delete your Likee account:

  1. Go to “Settings” and select “Account.”
  2. Click on “Delete account.”
  3. Read the Terms of Account Deletion and click “Continue.”
  4. Confirm that you have read and accepted the Likee Account Deletion Agreement.
  5. Click “Confirm Deletion.”
International Censorship & Security Journalist
Lauren Mak is an internal censorship and security-focused journalist with a keen eye for how technology affects society. With a background in International Relations and North American Studies, Lauren brings a unique perspective to the VPNOverview team. Lauren has a passion for helping others understand the importance of privacy, freedom, and internet safety and brings that passion to VPNOverview.