Reseurgence of SimSimi (pronounced ShimShimi)
Welcome back Sim Simi!
This previously not well known Korean app has been around since 2012. It’s pronounced ShimShimi and is actually the Korean for ‘bored’. The little yellow ball with a personality is a chat bot that learns from all the conversations it has with the hundreds of thousands of people that have downloaded it. Sounds quite innocent and having downloaded and tried the app, it can be quite entertaining.
There’s always a ‘but’ these days and in this case it’s quite a big one. The key to this is the bad word setting. Which you configure the first time you log in or you click the 3 dots top right and can toggle the button on or off. What happens when you do that of course is the app is able to dig into it’s vast store of ‘learned’ replies.
When SimSimi doesn’t understand something you have asked it will ask you to teach it. This means a lot of people have taken the time to teach it how to be abusive, how to learn swear words and slang sayings that would not be deemed appropriate for a younger audience. The app itself does have a 17+ years of age rating but when has that ever stopped younger people getting their hands on things.
Where this has real potential for harm is when someone decides to start a conversation with SimSimi using the name of another student or indeed co worker. With bad words toggled on, the conversation quickly deteriorates into abuse and name calling. Should that person then screen grab and share on other social channels, within the school or company, we enter the realm of cyberbullying very quickly.
Something that SimSimi does have though is the reporting function. Alongside every comment is a small siren icon that can be clicked should content be deemed inappropriate in your eyes.
Once clicked an onscreen prompt will appear with a question ‘What’s wrong with this? Users then have 4 options:
- It’s not interesting
- It’s sexually explicit
- It’s vulgar or violent
Once an option is chosen the message is removed from the onscreen chat with a message ‘Report has been completed’.
So once again it falls into the users responsibility to be vigilant and an upstander rather than a bystander. It’s also up to the parents of younger users to be on their toes as well. Discussing the topic and the rights and wrongs of cyberbullying is the only way we have any chance of fighting it. Over to you!