A state lawmaker says a 9-year-old Connecticut girl was recently a target of child exploitation after downloading a popular social media app.
State Rep. Liz Linehan (D-Cheshire) said it all started when the girl was approached on the social media app TikTok, which allows users to create and share their own short music videos. The girl was promised 1,000 new TikTok followers if she downloaded another app called FaceCast.
“Once she got into FaceCast she was brought into a chat room with over 500 other kids, and she was told to make some suggestive videos and if she didn't that they would ultimately hurt her parents,” said Linehan.
The girl was too scared to tell her parents about the threat, according to Linehan. Luckily an online volunteer group tracked down the girl's parents, who promptly went to the police. The incident is now under investigation.
Linehan, who chairs the legislature's Committee on Children, is urging parents to check their children's phone for FaceCast and immediately delete the app. But she also warns that it's not just FaceCast - predators lurk in many other social media apps, counting on the innocence of their victims.
“Maybe they ask to become your friend, do a friend request,” said Linehan. “And then they say, ‘Hey, want a thousand new followers, download this app,’ because they have something that the kid may want. And then it becomes, ‘Do this for me or I'll hurt your parents’ and it becomes a blackmail situation.”
Linehan is in the process of creating an event that will focus on online safety and child exploitation.
She said parents need to monitor their child's devices daily, and to keep an open dialogue with their children about the potential dangers of using social media apps like FaceCast.