The Facebook Messenger application may leave children vulnerable to sexual predators in multiple ways. Child predators can create profiles targeted to youths under the age of 18 years old, free of charge. Predators have access to private information and photographs if the Facebook profiles are not set as private. Child predators can privately send messages to underage youth without being accepted to their friends list first. They also have access to see children’s likes and dislikes, hobbies, and who their friends are on Facebook. Authorities are presently brainstorming about new ways to stop online predators.
According to Neurogadget.com, “Facebook is reportedly working on a ‘Secret Conversations’ encryption to be added to a future version of the Facebook Messenger application.” The encryption presently appears embedded within the Facebook Messenger coding sequence. This new addition to the Facebook Messenger application leaves children vulnerable to sexual predators online by supplying predators with additional chat options that could be used to maintain discreet conversations with possible victims.
The U.S. Department of Justice warns that:
- There are over 800,000 registered sex offenders in the United States.
- About 50 percent of sex crimes initiated over the internet on children begin when a predator offers the victim gifts and/or money.
- One in 25 underage youths has been approached online by predators that inquired about meeting offline.
- Nearly 100 percent of underage youths are willing to meet a predator they have had a previous conversation with, and about 90 percent of the youths engage in sexual acts with that predator.
In a recent interview with Inquisitir.com, CEO of the Children’s Advocacy Center Jackie Stephens said, “Kids do not understand that when they are communicating online with someone who is technically a stranger. They spend time talking to this person, they reveal and share their personal information, and then believe they are familiar with this person.” Police officials warn parents that sexual predators use Facebook Messenger because they know children are vulnerable, and having communication with the children leaves them with a euphoric feeling.
According to Yahoo! News, “As the year 2015 ended, the amount of users utilizing the Facebook Messenger application has grossed over 800,000,000 users monthly.” Police stations nationwide are developing sectors within the Special Victims Unit (SVU) and are going undercover on highly visited social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, looking for sexual predators. Several investigations on Facebook have led to arrests. Since 2016 started, there have been 24 arrests. Police officials are urging parents to monitor their children’s use of the internet and social media sites.
Also, CopBlock.org states, “Local police officers upload fake Facebook pages and photographs while posing as members of society; allowing them to gather personal information about suspects they consider to be highly dangerous and in risk of engaging in future crimes or have existing or pending charges.”
Despite the increased presence of online predators nationwide, police officials are not blind to the fact that child predators are taking advantage of youths on social media sites. Authorities are training police officers in the newest social media trends and terms in multiple languages, such as English and Spanish.
By Jhayla D. Tyson
Cop Block: Police are Creating Fake Accounts on Faceebook so They Can Monitor You, How to Identifya Fake Account
Inquisitir: Florida Aspiring Rapper Arrested for Having Sexual Intercourse With a 13-Year-old Girl, Who he Meet on KIK Messenger App
Neurogadget: Facebook Messenger Reportedly Working on Secret Conversations
The U.S. Department of Justice: Raising Awareness of Sexual Abuse Facts and Statistics
Yahoo! News: Facebook Messenger App Grows to More Than 800 mn Users
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