A NEW iPhone app called the "Ugly Meter" is just what cyberbullies - including elementary school kids - need to target easy marks, online security experts said today.
The US99c app, now available for iPhone users on Apple's iTunes Store, uses facial recognition software that measures symmetry and other features. Downloaded more than 20,000 times and designed for users aged nine and above, the app scans a snapshot and submits a score of one to 10, FOXnews.com reported.
A 10 garners this message: "You're so ugly, when you walk by the bathroom, the toilet flushes."
A 9.4 gets: "You look like you ran a 100-yard dash in a 90-yard gym."
While the app's creators say they are just having some fun, some critics say the software can be malicious in the wrong hands.
It's "right on the borderline" of appropriate and inappropriate, said Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Washington-based Family Online Safety Institute.
"I can see that the guys who programmed it were having a bit of fun and all," Mr Balkam said. "If you're 25, 26 or 28, this sort of thing could be quite funny or amusing. But in the hands of a 14- or 15-year-old, it could be quite the reverse, and particularly if someone is submitting someone else's photograph and then circulated that photo around school."
"For impressionable young teens and tweens, it could potentially be quite damaging," he said. "It could be used in cyberbullying."
Dr Gwenn O'Keeffe, author of Cybersafe: Protecting and Empowering Kids in the Digital World of Texting, Gaming and Social Media, said she thought the app could theoretically have a "crushing impact" on some young users.
"There's a fine line between teasing and razzing one another," Dr O'Keeffe said. "And this is just hurtful. It could have crushing blows on kids with low self-esteem. There's just nothing good that could come from an app like this. There are other ways to have fun in life."
Dr O'Keeffe said Apple should consider removing the application from its online store, or perhaps make it unavailable to minors.