Child predators are using popular social media applications to scout and initiate contact with potential victims, especially those communication platforms that are popular among a younger demographic—under the age of 18. A number of these applications advertise privacy-centric features such as end-to-end encrypted messaging, direct messing capabilities, and the ability for users to share photos, videos, and their physical location.
Child predators, after initially contacting and developing a rapport with victims on one platform, may convince them to move their communications to a different platform to isolate them from other users and make it more difficult for law enforcement to monitor and track predator activity.
Although the popularity, features, and usage of communication applications may change rapidly due to acquisitions and rebranding, the following is a list of applications that are known to have been used by predators to target minors.
Parents and guardians are encouraged to check application review sites before downloading such as Common Sense Media, Protect Young Eyes and Smart Social.