In an ever-evolving world, there are so many things we have to safeguard ourselves and our families from. Everyone in this world does not have good intentions. And this is certainly true of social media users. A most unfortunate side effect of the social media boom is sexual predators leveraging these platforms to prey on unsuspecting people. It’s human nature to want to trust people, but it’s much better to err on the side of caution when using social media. Here are just a few ways predators use digital platforms to victimize people.
Most predators will be using platforms that allow for private messaging. This keeps their activity well under the radar and possibly deletable. A sex crimes attorney may be able to help if you think you were victimized and you don’t have receipts from Snapchat or another social media platform. Since social media allows people to assume any identity, predators will often misrepresent themselves as the opposite sex and as whatever age is convenient–a child even. Being able to paint themselves as someone their target finds comfortable engaging with is a big part of their seedy operation. Private messaging gives the illusion of privacy and creates the perfect setting for taking advantage of someone.
It’s easy to meet strangers on social media and to even feel connected to them. But stranger danger is a real concern. That’s why sexual predators will groom their targets. They’ll work hard to gain your trust by leveraging the information that’s been made public (likes and dislikes, music, hobbies, family situations, etc.). Predators make their victims feel comfortable and wait for them to lower their guard before going further. Further usually means sending inappropriate pictures, using sexually explicit language, asking for sexually explicit or naked pictures, etc. Trust comes a lot easier when Twitter makes you feel like you’ve got tons in common, but online friends are still strangers.
Manipulating victims is another piece of the puzzle. Once they’ve gained your trust they will begin to warp your sense of judgement and get you to turn off that little voice inside. Flattery is another manipulative tool they will use to get what they’re looking for from you. If there has been any exchange of secrets or private information, the predator may try to extort you with it. This is a sure sign that you should contact the authorities. They may even ask for money. Sometimes they will offer tickets to a location. Kidnapping, sex trafficking and worse are just some of the things that can result in accepting tickets and traveling.
Unfortunately, the safest place for your child may not always be at home. The Internet is a gateway to the outside world. It has tons of great qualities that make it an invaluable and convenient tool, but it also has drawbacks and should be used with caution. Your best line of defence against sexual predators on social media is education. Talk to your loved ones about warning signs and safety protocols.
Are your children using social media and do you have rules in place to ensure they’re safe?