Will traffickers lure your kids on Snapchat?

Will traffickers lure your kids on Snapchat?

Within the past few days, there has been a rumor surrounding the photo-sharing app Snpachat. The rumor that’s been circulating mainly on Facebook claims that there is a sex trafficking ring operating in Lawrence, Massachusetts that recruits young girls over Snapchat. The rumor purports that strangers are adding your kids as friends on Snapchat and once they do that the traffickers are able to ascertain your child’s location and potentially kidnap them. However, according to the Lawrence Police, there is no such trafficking ring operating in Lawrence and fact-checking site Snopes says the rumor is gaining ground due to a misunderstanding about how Snapchat works.

Snapchat does have a feature where friends can see each other’s location if both friends agree to enable the feature called Snap Map. But if one of the users does not enable Snap Map their location cannot be found. It’s not an automatic thing that turns on once you accept somebody’s friend request.

Now while there is not currently a sex trafficking ring in Lawrence, that doesn’t mean that traffickers don’t use social media to approach children. In typical cases, traffickers will target children who are having problems at home or have run away in the past. In many instances, those children will have exhibited some evidence on their social media accounts. This allows traffickers to start grooming them by telling them how they understand the child better than the child’s parents do. In some other cases, the traffickers will promise kids from low-income areas with promises of fame and money and convince the child to run away.

This could happen on any social media platform and not just Snapchat. These grooming techniques are not a new thing and were even used in the MySpace days. One of the best ways to protect your kids from traffickers and other online predators is to talk with them about how these predators operate and how most strangers online probably want something inappropriate from them. Another good way is to keep tabs on the apps your children may use and who is on their friends list. If it’s somebody that they’ve never met in person that you don’t know it’s a good idea to have them remove that person from their contacts. Lastly, you may want to consider holding on to all your children’s device after they go to bed in order to keep an eye on any unusual messages they may receive.