Musical.ly App security should be of concern to all parents.
A Melbourne mother has revealed the horrifying moment she witnessed her 8-year-old daughter being groomed by an online predator — who was posing as Justin Bieber.
Via News.com.au: Alicia Bellette of Essendon has shared how she was with her daughter Charli, when four message notifications from ‘The Real Justin Bieber’ popped up on her iPad. The messages were sent via the social media app Musical.ly which allows users to create music videos and sing along to popular tunes.
The Musical.ly app has been downloaded by 50 million users under the age of 21 and is hugely popular with tweens and teens.
Mrs Bellette said she made every attempt to ensure her daughter’s profile was as private as possible but within 48 hours of downloading the app, Mrs Bellette’s worst nightmare became a reality. It took less than two days for an online predator to make contact with Charli via private messages.
“It’s quite similar to Facebook in that you get notifications. A notification popped up saying it was from ‘The Real Justin Bieber’, and I was like ‘oh, who is that? The message had Justin Bieber’s photo on the screen, and it looked very real and well done.
The first message said ‘Who wants to win a 5 minute video call with me [Bieber]’ The next message said ‘All you need to do is send me a photo of you naked, or of your vagina’. I knew it was a professional groomer as soon as the final message popped up, because it was really encouraging her to send a photo. It read ‘Lots of girls send me these pics all the time and I will never tell anyone you sent one.’”
Horrified Mrs Bellette removed the iPad from her daughter and took it to the police. The officers were shocked by the content of the messages, but admitted it was extremely difficulty to track down a predator who uses these apps. The police said they would act on the matter but that the person could be anywhere in the world and would be virtually impossible to locate.
“This app is an online predator’s dream, because it clearly gives access to so many kids. What sickens me is how many young girls might’ve got this message in their bedroom, while their parents are downstairs cooking dinner, and decided to take a quick photo and send it. It could happen so easily.”
Mrs Bellette said she has spoken out in the hope that the incident plays as a warning to other parents.
“I was really apprehensive about coming forward, but if one innocent little baby remains innocent that is a good thing.”
Want to hear more? Here’s the story being discussed on Fifi, Dev, Fev & Byron: