A lot of teens love spending time on the Internet these days and that’s no surprise. Every day, teens around the world spend hours on social media, forums, video games and programs like Omegle, a web-based chat program, with webcam and audio abilities.
One of the popular phone applications is Kik messenger, a free to use chat messenger program, designed to communicate with other Kik users around the world. Its structure is simple to use, easy to install and to sign into. Unfortunately, like many other technologies, it comes with a dark side.
Since the start of Kik messenger, many teenagers and young adults have become victims of online bullying by users of the program. We’re not only talking about name calling, but the distribution of illegal imagery as well. The Cyber Crime Response Agency, as well as many other organizations, have received reports of this conduct from thousands of individuals. The numbers, unfortunately only seem to rise each year.
“Some of the users are your normal teenagers and young adults.” Said Stephen Bernardoni, Vice Executive Director of the CCRA. “But most of these users disguise themselves as teenagers, in order to make other young users more comfortable with sending their illegal images.” Bernardoni continued. “They’re actually any age, from young to middle-aged adults. They create these lies to gather the photos and then submit them onto the dark web.”
CCRA stated that from 2014 to the beginning of 2016, they received multiple calls from Kik users, stating they met someone on the program, befriended them, then were told if they didn’t send a certain amount of money to that user, their sexual images would be sent to their friends and family.
“We don’t want society to believe there isn’t a way out.” Bernardoni said. “We also don’t want them under the impression that sending sexual images, especially to strangers, doesn’t come with a heavy price to pay.” He continued.
In a nutshell, images you don’t want your family to see shouldn’t be sent to anyone. It’s also a good idea to avoid parts of the Internet, where high crime is present. Kik is no exception. Although there are block features, it’s still fairly easy for predators to contact new victims, by viewing websites and mobile apps that provide the ability to see Kik usernames and ages.
As if predators weren’t already a big enough issue on Kik, the support and management team of Kik haven’t been so “helpful” towards victims and law enforcement.
“We’ve tried contacting Kik support several times in the past, attempting to shut down sexual predator ring groups and users, but they appear to place those types of requests in the back of their queue. Bernardoni exclaimed. “I don’t know if they truly want to help law enforcement or us, especially since they rarely keep chat logs on their server.”
The CCRA ended the interview, stating they would highly suggest avoiding the Kik program completely. There is absolutely no point to moving into a high crime neighborhood, knowing of the dangers and try living a normal life. Don’t avoid reality; protect yourself and your family.