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Politics, culture, and American life — from the family perspective.

The Dangers of Social Media: Child Rape



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I’m always telling women I know that I have no clue why any person, let alone a woman who’s by herself at, say, a bar, feels the need to “check-in” with a social-media app, be it FourSquare, Facebook, or this one I’ve never heard of, Skout. Via the New York Times:

After Rapes Involving Children, Skout, a Flirting App, Bans Minors

In the latest cautionary tale of the risks of using social networks to connect with strangers, three men have been accused of raping children they met using a mobile app designed for flirting between adults.

The rape charges startled managers of Skout, the social networking app, because they thought they had adequate safeguards in place.

It took three years for the start-up to find a promising business model. After switching from a Foursquare-like location check-in service to a flirting app that connects people with strangers nearby, the company was attracting millions of new users a month. The company started a separate, more protected, service for 13- to 17-year-olds last year after noticing that minors had gained access to the app.

The company, based in San Francisco, got a vote of confidence in April when it secured $22 million in financing from Andreessen Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley’s leading venture capital firms.

But in each rape case, the men are accused of posing as teenagers in a Skout forum for 13- to 17-year-olds. In one case, a 15-year-old Ohio girl said she had been raped by a 37-year-old man. In the second, a 24-year-old man has been accused of raping a 12-year-old girl in Escondido, Calif. In the third, a 21-year-old man from Waukesha, Wis., is facing charges that he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old boy.

“I’m disgusted by what’s happened here,” Christian Wiklund, Skout’s founder, said in an interview on Monday. “One case is too many. When you have three, it looks like a pattern. This is my worst fear.”

Mr. Wiklund said he had no choice but to suspend the service for minors, which he said made up a “significant” portion of its member base, while he worked with security experts to add better safeguards.

Suspending the service for minors won’t matter. Kids having access to social-media platforms through their parents is the problem. Parents need to control what their kids are doing on their phones, etc. And if you have a child that you can’t trust, then he or she shouldn’t have a phone, etc., that can connect to the Internet. It’s called parenting, and it’s not too difficult.

The rest from the Times here.



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