Attorney General Alert: Predators Exploiting App Popular with Children
Nicole.Waugh@arkansasag.gov LITTLE ROCK – A seemingly innocent mobile phone application is now being used by child predators to exploit children. Recent news reports explain a dark side of the lip syncing app, Musical.ly, where predatory users manipulate keywords and hashtags to create secret video groupings of app users, often children, engaging in inappropriate behavior at the encouragement of other users.
“As adults, it is our job to protect our children,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. “Aunts, uncles, moms, dads, grandparents and family friends should all educate themselves about the latest apps the children in their lives are using. We must also make every effort to talk with children about the dangers of posting personal information online and the ways that information can be spread across the world – sometimes into the hands of people who do not have good intentions.”
Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips for children and families to remember when posting online and using apps.
• Do not respond to messages that are inappropriate. Encourage children to tell an adult if they ever encounter anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
• Parents and guardians should consider using available parental controls offered at no cost by most providers and/or downloading a monitoring service app that allows them to view the child’s smartphone activity.
• Children should never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met online as they may not be who they say they are.
• Follow the “Front Page Rule,” which reminds social media users not to put anything on a social media site they would not want to see on the front page of a newspaper.
• Assume that status updates, photos and videos posted on social networks are permanent. Just because a profile is deleted or information is removed, older versions can continue to exist on other sites.
• Make a unique password for every social media site. Consider making the passwords stronger by adding numbers or special characters. Having strong, unique passwords for each site helps prevent hackers from taking over social media accounts to send spam, scam friends or use information against the owner of the account.
Musical.ly is a popular app that boasts use by millions of people around the world every day. Users can create 15 to 60 second videos, adding music and filters to post on the site and for others to comment or “like.” In 2016, Rutledge teamed up with Common Sense Media and AT& T to adopt the Digital You training program, which offers tools, tips, apps and guidance about staying safe online for people of all levels of online experience. Digital You training is available to parents and teachers across the State to teach them the latest internet safety tips, and encourage the implementation of lessons about staying safe online. Concerned parents are encouraged to report instances of online exploitation of children, including unsolicited obscene materials sent to a child and misleading words on the internet, to the CyberTipline at www.missingkids. org/gethelpnow/cybertipline.
For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumerrelated issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@ arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge .
By Nicole Waugh