|Developer(s)||Kik Interactive Inc.|
|Initial release||October 19, 2010|
|Operating system||iOS 8.1 or later, Android 4.1 or later|
|Type||Instant messaging client|
|Alexa rank||49,499 (Global, September 2019[update]) |
Kik Messenger, commonly called Kik, is a freeware instant messaging mobile app from the Canadian company Kik Interactive, available free of charge on iOS and Android operating systems. It uses a smartphone's data plan or Wi-Fi to transmit and receive messages, photos, videos, sketches, mobile webpages, and other content after users register a username. Kik is known for its features preserving users' anonymity, such as allowing users to register without providing a telephone number. However, the Kik application logs user IP addresses, which the company can use to determine location. As of May 2016, Kik Messenger had approximately 300 million registered users, and was used by approximately 40% of United States teenagers.
Kik Messenger has drawn controversy due to its reported involvement in a number of incidents of child exploitation. The app has been criticized as unsafe for minors due to its anonymity features and allegedly weak parental control mechanisms. The company also issued a controversial initial coin offering.
Kik Interactive was founded in 2009 by a group of students from the University of Waterloo in Canada who wished to create new technologies for use on mobile smartphones. Kik Messenger is the first app developed by Kik Interactive, and was released on October 19, 2010. Within 15 days of its release, Kik Messenger reached one million user registrations, with Twitter being credited as a catalyst for the new application's popularity.
On November 24, 2010, Research In Motion (RIM) removed Kik Messenger from BlackBerry App World and limited the functionality of the software for its users. RIM also sued Kik Interactive for patent infringement and misuse of trademarks. In October 2013, the companies settled the lawsuit, with the terms undisclosed.
In November 2014, Kik announced a $38.3 million Series C funding round and its first acquisition, buying GIF Messenger "Relay". The funding was from Valiant Capital Partners, Millennium Technology Value Partners, and SV Angel. By this time, Kik had raised a total of $70.5 million.
On August 16, 2015, Kik received a $50 million investment from Chinese Internet giant Tencent, the parent company of the popular Chinese messaging service WeChat. The investment earned the company a billion dollar valuation. Company CEO Ted Livingston stated Kik's aspirations to become "the WeChat of the West" and said that attracting younger users was an important part of the company's strategy.
In 2017 Kik decided against more VC funding, instead raising nearly $100M in a high-profile initial coin offering (ICO) on the Ethereum blockchain. In this crowd sale, they sold "Kin" digital tokens to the contributors.
In November 2017, Kik Messenger was silently removed from the Windows Store. As of 23 January 2018, neither the developers nor Microsoft have provided a statement or an explanation on the removal of the app.
In June 2018, the Kin Coin was officially released on the Kik platform in Beta.
In July 2018, the Kin Foundation released the Kinit beta app on the Google Play store, restricted to US residents only. It offers different ways of earning and spending the Kin coin natively; for example, you can do simple surveys to earn Kin and spend it on digital goods like gift cards.
A main attraction of Kik that differentiates it from other messaging apps is its anonymity. To register for the Kik service, a user must enter a first and last name, e-mail address, and birth date (which, as of February 2016, must show that the user is at least 13 years old), and select a username. The Kik registration process does not request or require the entry of a phone number (although the user has the option to enter one), unlike some other messaging services that require a user to provide a functioning mobile phone number.
The New York Times has reported that according to law enforcement, Kik's anonymity features go beyond those of most widely used apps. As of February 2016, Kik's guide for law enforcement said that the company cannot locate user accounts based on first and last name, e-mail address and/or birth date; the exact username is required to locate a particular account. The guide further said that the company does not have access to content or "historical user data" such as photographs, videos, and the text of conversations, and that photographs and videos are automatically deleted shortly after they are sent. A limited amount of data from a particular account (identified by exact username), including first and last name, birthdate, e-mail address, link to a current profile picture, device-related information, and user location information such as the most recently used IP address, can be preserved for a period of 90 days pending receipt of a valid order from law enforcement. Kik's anonymity has also been cited as a protective safety measure for good faith users, in that "users have screennames; the app doesn’t share phone numbers or email addresses."
Since May 2014, Kik has contained a safety feature that blurs messages from strangers, so that users must opt in to view content sent by people outside their network. Users also have the option to delete any offensive content or block another user from contacting them. These features were developed in response to the widespread use of Kik for "cross-app" communication, whereby a user who encounters people on another app (usually a gaming app) would then use Kik to communicate with them.
Kik introduced several new user features in 2015, including a full-screen in-chat browser that allows users to find and share content from the web; a feature allowing users to send previously recorded videos in Kik Messenger for Android and iOS; and "Kik Codes", which assigns each user a unique code similar to a QR code, making it easier to connect and chat with other users. Kik joined the Virtual Global Taskforce, a global anti-child-abuse organization, in March 2015. Kik began using Microsoft's PhotoDNA in March 2015 to premoderate images added by users. That same month, Kik released native video capture allowing users to record up to 15 seconds in the chat window. In October 2015, Kik partnered with the Ad Council as part of an anti-bullying campaign. The campaign was featured on the app and Kik released stickers in collaboration with the campaign. Kik released a feature to send GIFs as emojis in November 2015. Kik added SafePhoto to its safety features in October 2016 which "detects, reports, and deletes known child exploitation images" sent through the platform. Kik partnered with ConnectSafely in 2016 to produce a "parents handbook" and joined The Technology Coalition, an anti-sexual exploitation group including Facebook, Google, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Kik added promoted chats in 2014, which used bots to converse with users about promoted brands through keywords activating responses. The feature allows companies to communicate with more potential clients than would be possible manually. Promoted messages reach target audiences by gender, country and device. In April 2016, Kik added a bot store to its app, which allows users to order food or products through an automated chat. Third party companies release bots which will access the company's offerings. The bot shop added a web bubble (also known as "wubbles") feature to allow rich media content to be shared in conversation threads, as well as suggested responses and a feature allowing bots to be active in group threads. An update, released in September 2016, added concierge bots which can give users tips, tutorials, or recommendations within a specific brand.
On November 4, 2014, Kik scored 1 out of 7 points on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's secure messaging scorecard. Kik received a point for encryption during transit but lost points because communications are not encrypted with a key to which the provider does not have access, users cannot verify contacts' identities, past messages are not secure if the encryption keys are stolen, the code is not open to independent review, the security design is not properly documented, and there had not been a recent independent security audit.
Awards and recognition
On October 1, 2014, Sony Music and Kik Interactive were given a Smarties award by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) for their global music marketing campaign with One Direction. In October 2016, company CEO Ted Livingston was recognized as Toronto's most brilliant tech innovator by Toronto Life for his work with Kik. Livingston was also recognized for being one of the "Most Creative People in Business" on Fast Company's 2017 list.
Child exploitation is prominent on Kik Messenger, causing law enforcement and the media to frequently express concerns about the app. Automated spam bots have also been used to distribute explicit images and text over Kik Messenger. A state law enforcement official interviewed by The New York Times in February 2016 identified Kik as "the problem app of the moment". Police say they find Kik's response frustrating and one detective said obtaining information from Kik was a "bureaucratic nightmare". Constable Jason Cullum of Northamptonshire Police paedophile online investigation team stated delays in obtaining information from the company increased the risk to children. Cullum stated, "It's incredibly frustrating. We're banging our heads against a brick wall. There's a child that's going to be abused for probably another 12 months before we know who that is."
Prior to 2015, Kik Interactive addressed this issue by informing parents and police about their options to combat child exploitation. In March 2015, the company adopted a more aggressive strategy by utilizing Microsoft's PhotoDNA cloud service to automatically detect, delete, and report the distribution of child exploitation images on its app. (Some experts have noted that because PhotoDNA operates by comparing images against an existing database of exploitative images, it does not effectively prevent "realtime" online child abuse and may not detect material not yet added to its comparison database.) Kik Interactive also began collaborating internationally with law enforcement by joining the Virtual Global Taskforce, a partnership between businesses, child protection agencies, and international police services that combats online child exploitation and abuse. The company also sponsors an annual conference on crimes against children.
Minors' use of Kik
Kik has been criticized for providing inadequate parental control over minors' use of the app. The ability to share messages without alerting parents has been noted as "one of the reasons why teens like Kik". Parents cannot automatically view their child's Kik communications remotely from another device, but instead must have the password to their child's user account and view the communications on the same device used by their child. As of February 2016, Kik's parents' guide stresses that teens between 13 and 18 should have a parent's permission to use Kik, but there is no technical way to enforce the requirement or to guarantee that a minor will not enter a false birthdate. Kik Interactive has said that it uses "typical" industry standards for age verification, that "perfect age verification" is "not plausible", and that the company deletes accounts of users under 13 when it finds them, or when a parent requests the deletion.
Open-source module name
Kin is an ERC-20 cryptocurrency token issued on the public Ethereum blockchain. Kin was first announced in early 2017 which marked a pivot in Kik's strategy, a response to difficulties faced from competing with larger social networks such as Facebook. Kin was launched in September 2017 with an initial coin offering (ICO) raising $98 million from 10,000 participants. The purpose of the token is to facilitate value transfers in digital services such as gaming applications and social media, and will initially be launched on the Kik messenger to leverage the application's 15 million monthly active users.
The enforcement division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission considers the cryptocurrency offering to have been an unregulated security issue and is expected to begin legal action against the company. Kik has challenged the SEC's ability to regulate cryptocurrencies.
On September 7, 2017, only days before the Kin ICO, Kik announced that Canadian citizens would be barred from participating, citing weak guidance from the Ontario Securities Commission for the decision. This partly suppressed participation in the ICO, with only $98 million raised of the $125 million goal.
By 2019 the value of Kik had fallen by 99%.
- "Kik - Apps on Google Play". play.google.com. Retrieved 2019-07-30.
- "Kik APKs". APKMirror. Retrieved 2019-07-30.
- "Kik". App Store. Retrieved 2019-08-27.
- "kik.com Competitive Analysis, Marketing Mix and Traffic - Alexa". www.alexa.com. Retrieved 2019-09-01.
- "How do I get the Kik app".
- "Is Kik Free?".
- Dingman, Shane (2015-03-16). "For Fast-Growing Chat Apps Like Waterloo's Kik, Child Exploitation a Pervasive Threat". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ontario. Archived from the original on 2015-03-17. Retrieved 2016-02-12. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Rahman, Khaleda (2016-02-02). "How anonymous messaging app Kik is a law enforcement nightmare and may have been used by Virginia Tech student to 'lure girl, 13, to her death'". DailyMail.com. Daily Mail. Archived from the original on 2016-02-13. Retrieved 2016-02-13. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "Kik's Guide for Law Enforcement" (PDF). Kik Messenger.
- "Kik already has over 6,000 bots reaching 300 million registered users". Tech Crunch. 11 May 2016.
- Hughes, Trevor (2016-02-05). "Kik messaging app scrutinized in wake of Va. teen's murder". WVEC-TV (Channel 13, ABC). USA Today. Archived from the original on 2016-02-13. Retrieved 2016-02-13. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Stolberg, Sheryl Gay; Pérez-Peña, Richard (2016-02-05). "Wildly Popular App Kik Offers Teenagers, and Predators, Anonymity". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
- Vigna, Paul; Michaels, Dave (29 January 2019). "Are ICO Tokens Securities? Startup Wants a Judge to Decide". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
- "Kik Messenger Gets off to a Good Start After October Relaunch". ThirdAge. November 4, 2010. Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved December 17, 2010.
- "KiK Messenger, free messages for Android, iPhone and BlackBerry". Dailyrumors.net. Archived from the original on November 10, 2010. Retrieved December 17, 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Motorola il iDEN. "Kik Messenger app blows past 1 million users". Intomobile.com. Retrieved December 17, 2010.
- "RIM bloque une application concurrente A son service BlackBerry Messenger - ActualitAŠs Techno-AŠconomie - TAŠlAŠcoms et mobilitAŠ". Benefice-net.branchez-vous.com. Archived from the original on November 27, 2010. Retrieved December 17, 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Weinberg, Stuart (2010-12-01). "RIM Sues App Maker Kik Over Patents". The Wall Street Journal. New York City. Retrieved 2016-02-12.
- Silcoff, Sean; McNish, Jacquie; Ladurantaye, Steve (September 27, 2013). "Inside the fall of BlackBerry: How the smartphone inventor failed to adapt". The Globe and Mail Inc. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
- Simone, Rose (October 9, 2013). "Kik eager to move on after settling spat with BlackBerry". The Record.com. Retrieved August 8, 2014.
- Russell, Jon November 19, 2014 TechCrunch. "Chat App Kik Raises $38M And Makes Its First Acquisition, Buying GIF Messenger Relay"
- George-Cosh, David; MacMillan, Douglas. "Tencent Invests $50 Million in Messaging App Kik". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2015-08-19.
- de la Merced, Michael J. (2015-08-18). "Dealbook: Kik Raises $50 Million From Tencent, in Bid to Become 'WeChat of the West'". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
- Roof, Katie. "Kik CEO explains why its doing an ICO instead of venture fundraising". Tech Crunch. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
- Russell, Jon. "Kik raises nearly $100M in highest profile ICO to date". Tech Cruch. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
- Surur. "Kik says goodbye to Windows Phone". MSPoweruser. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
- Walters, Steve (27 Jun 2018). "Kin Launching on Kik". Coin Bureau. Retrieved 30 Jun 2018.
- Biggs, John (July 18, 2018). "Kik launches beta product after $100 million ICO". TechCrunch. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
- "Kik's Safety Guide for Parents". kik.com. Kik Interactive. 2016-02-04. Archived from the original on 2016-02-13. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
If the birthday entered is for someone younger than 13, the account won’t be registered.Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "Kik Messenger's Smart New Safety Features". ConnectSafely.org. Connect Safely: Smart Socializing Starts Here. 2014-05-20. Archived from the original on 2015-05-20. Retrieved 2016-02-13. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "Kik Introduces An In-Chat Browser For Its Mobile Messaging App". TechCrunch.
- "Kik Codes launch on Kik Messenger, making it easier to connect with people | TruTower". TruTower. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
- Sarah Frier (March 10, 2015). "Kik Adds Tools to Prevent Child Exploitation on Messaging App". Bloomberg.
- Jon Russell (March 4, 2015). "Chat App Kik Adds Native Video In Step Towards More Interactive Content". Tech Crunch.
- Tanya Dua (October 22, 2015). "Adobe, GS&P and Ad Council introduce eye emoji for new anti-bullying campaign". Digiday.
- Jon Russell (November 16, 2015). "Chat App Kik's Newest Feature Makes Sending GIFs As Easy As Emoji". Tech Crunch.
- Khari Johnson (October 13, 2016). "Kik steps up efforts to keep teen users safe". Venture Beat.
- Jon Russell (November 6, 2014). "Kik Introduces Promoted Chats To Let Brands On Its Messaging App And Finally Make Money". Tech Crunch.
- "Can Kik Beat Snapchat With New Targeting Capabilities for Brands?". Ad Week. March 5, 2015.
- Kurt Wagner (April 5, 2016). "Kik Messenger launched a bot store one week before Facebook is expected to launch a bot store". Recode.
- Erin Griffith (April 5, 2016). "Kik Launches a 'Bot Shop' Because Bot Shops Are the New App Stores". Fortune.
- Biz Carson (April 5, 2016). "A messaging app loved by teens just beat Facebook to one of its major announcements". Business Insider.
- Tamar Weinberg (April 5, 2016). "Kik opens Bot Shop to encourage more fun and engaging chat". Marketing Land.
- Ken Yeung (April 5, 2016). "Kik launches a Bot Shop for its messaging platform". Venture Beat.
- "Kik continues to push the envelope with launch of new chatbot feature". Business Insider. September 30, 2014.
- "Secure Messaging Scorecard. Which apps and tools actually keep your messages safe?". Electronic Frontier Foundation. November 4, 2014. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
- "Only 6 Messaging Apps Are Truly Secure". PC Magazine. November 5, 2014. Retrieved January 8, 2015.
- "Smarties: Congratulations To Our Winners". Mobile Marketing Association (MMA). 2014-10-01. Retrieved 2016-02-12.
- Luc Rinaldi (October 6, 2016). "Toronto's 20 most brilliant tech innovators". Toronto Life. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
- Rose Pastore (January 24, 2017). "Be Inspired By These Creative Leaders Who Are Changing The World". Fast Company. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
- Steven Raeburn. "Kik social media platform draws police warning". The Drum.
- Harve Jacobs (December 5, 2013). "Live 5 Investigates: Predators using Kik messenger phone app - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi". wlox.com.
- Julia Wong (February 7, 2014). "Students, parents warned about explicit spam messages on Kik Messenger". Global News.
- "Albertans complain Kik messenger spam bot sending sexual messages". cbc.ca. March 5, 2014.
- Kik chat app 'involved in 1,100 child abuse cases' BBC
- Frier, Sarah (2015-03-10). "Kik Adds Tools to Prevent Child Exploitation on Messaging App". Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg News. Archived from the original on 2016-02-13. Retrieved 2016-02-13. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "Dynamic Coalition on Child Online Safety: Disrupting and Reducing the Availability of Child Sex Abuse on the Internet (panel discussion transcript)". friendsoftheigf.org. Friends of the Internet Governance Forum. 2014-03-09. Archived from the original on 2016-02-13. Retrieved 2016-02-13. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "Kik Messenger App Scrutinized Following 13-Year-Old's Death". CBS News. Associated Press. 2016-02-03. Archived from the original on 2016-02-05. Retrieved 2016-02-12. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "@westlac". www.npmjs.com. Retrieved 2016-03-24.
- Weinberger, Matt (2016-03-23). "One Angry Programmer Almost Broke the Internet by Deleting 11 Lines of Code". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 2016-03-24. Retrieved 2016-03-24. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Brownell, Claire (16 June 2017). "Messenger app Kik is betting on its own cryptocurrency to upend the online business model". Financial Post. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
- Hackett, Robert (25 May 2017). "Chat App Kik to Mint Own Cryptocurrency". Fortune. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
- Vigna, Paul (29 August 2017). "Messaging-App Kik's Big Bet on a Digital Coin Offering". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
- Chavez-Dreyfuss, Gertrude (26 September 2017). "Kik's $100 million in proceeds from token sale below expectations". Reuters. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
- Russell, Jon (26 September 2017). "Kik raises nearly $100M in highest profile ICO to date". Techcrunch. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
- Jackson, Eric (11 July 2017). "Why a messaging start-up is making its own digital currency instead of going public". CNBC. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
- De Vynck, Gerrit (8 September 2017). "Kik Blames Canadian Regulators for Skipping Country in ICO". Bloomberg. Retrieved 16 January 2018.