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URGENT Pornographic image to minors - Duolingo Profiles need to be private by default

So I use Duolingo Schools with my middle school students especially now with hybrid model learning. I had never had a problem with my students creating accounts using their school email but today was completely not okay. I had a student message me saying that as soon as they created and signed in to their account they were followed by a woman with a topless profile picture. I had to walk the student through how to block the account (which meant they had to pull up the profile again) and change their privacy settings.

August 24, 2020



Please take a look in the Educators forum where this has been discussed extensively.

Short answer: Duolingo is aware of this bot/hacker and are looking into it. However, young students should not be creating their own accounts and if they do, they should be monitored so that they don't put in the incorrect birthdate and so that they mark their profiles private.

There's more and better info in the Educators forum, but that 's the gist of it.


I almost thought there is now a solution that public profiles have been changed to PRIVATE (forcing users just with an opt-out option):


But be careful, users have posted in several threads that multiple PRIVATE profiles also have been changed back to public.

Is this a bug?
Has a code change in the staff admin tool gone horrible wrong? What is going on with the backend and settings?

I could imagine that now many more pupils do own a PUBLIC profile even they have no clue about!?!?

Interestingly, nothing was change for my account, not yet.

  • 1328

It was just a bug, and it has long been fixed. No need to read more into it.




I wonder how many kids/pupils got their account switched to public without noticing it or that their teachers are not aware of?

Or has the fix changed this back for all profiles which were previously set to private??

As I said, I was not affected with my public profile....

  • 1328

Children under 13 have no privacy settings, so I don't see how they could've been affected, and teachers control privacy settings directly from the Duolingo for Schools dashboard, overriding the students' settings.


Quote: Children under 13 have no privacy settings

Ah ok.

Quote: I don't see how they could've been affected

So what about the rest of minors being under 18 or 21 years old who had previously set their profile to PRIVATE?

Shouldn't staff a round mail / newsletter that their backend failed and profile may have been switched back to PUBLIC?

Shouldn't people be required to manually check their privacy settings if they are OK with the change (if this was done internally by the system because of a bug and the PUBLIC flag might remain in their profiles)?

I am sorry for asking those dumb questions, but I have no idea if staff had an option to rollback everything from a previous BACKUP.

Wouldn't this mean that any newer lesson/XP data people had gained for several days should be lost too?

Or they have programmed something which rolled 1-2 changes manually back without a system / database RESTORE.


@Lrtward Could you maybe inform staff that something mysterious is going on in their HQ? ;)

Maybe some people have already opened bug reports?

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