Parents warned over 'ugly meter' phone app

A phone application which tells people how "ugly'' they are will be used for bullying, an expert says.

The Ugly Meter enables smartphone users to snap an image of someone's face, which is then judged by the programme.

Ratings are given from 0 to 10 - 10 being the ugliest - and include some not-so-nice quips about the person's looks, such as: "When you walk past a bathroom, the toilet flushes.''

NetSafe chief executive Martin Cocker said that while the app appeared to be satirical and fun, it would definitely be used by bullies, especially those who didn't realise the results were random.

"Any piece of technology can be used and warped into bullying and this piece of technology is ready to go straight out of the box,'' Mr Cocker said.

The application includes a "Bully Mode'' which gives meaner insults and the ability to post "Your Ugly Photos'' to Facebook and Twitter.

"That shows that bullying isn't something the developers are too concerned about,'' Mr Cocker said.

For children who are vulnerable to bullying, the Ugly Meter could be "particularly harmful''.

"If a child is particularly concerned about their looks then while this might seem like a bit of fun, it could be quite painful for them to experience.''

The low cost of the application - $1.29 - meant children could afford to download it on their own accounts without their parents knowing about it, Mr Cocker said.

"It's something that society will just have to roll with, which is a bit unfortunate.''

The Ugly Meter is pitched as a means of determining how unattractive you are.

"Do you ever wonder if you're ugly and your friends just don't tell you?'' it says.

Created last year, the Ugly Meter has recently leapt up the list of the Apple App Store's most popular applications after coverage by American mainstream media. It is also available on Android devices.

The Ugly Meter has been downloaded more than five million times worldwide, generating more than US$500,000 ($620,000) in revenue.

Developer Dapper Gentlemen made US$80,000 in a day after the US$4.99 Pro version was showcased on Howard Stern's morning radio show in the US, according to the Daily Mail.

- Amelia Wade, New Zealand Herald

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