34-year-old Joseph Coder, of Fort Wayne Indiana, has been charged with several crimes involving Snapchat, Kik, and a 12-year-old girl from New Hampshire. Police say that the victim was introduced to Coder in a group chat by one of the victim’s friends. Coder is then said to have given his cell phone number to the victims. Over the various messaging and photo sharing apps they exchanged explicit images of each other. They both claimed to be 16 online but eventually she told Coder she was 12, And Coder allegedly told the girl that he was 23. Then Coder allegedly coerced the girl to send him naked pictures of her 10-year-old sister. When Coder was said to ask for pictures of the girl’s friends, she broke the ‘relationship’ off with Coder. In an interview with police, Coder is said to have admitted that he knew the girl was 12.
According to the terms of service for apps like Kik and Snapchat, a user needs to be at least 13 years of age in order to use their services, however there is no way they can verify a users’ age. In my opinion, due to the amount of predators that inhabit both services, I would recommend not letting any child on them until they were 18. For the parents of pre-teens with cell phones, tablets, and laptops, you may want to think about securing their devices at night. You may trust your child implicitly, but can you trust the stranger on the other end of the conversation?
UPDATE 1/17/2017: Coder has pleaded guilty to vicarious sexual conduct with a 12-year-old girl and felony possession of child porn. He is scheduled to be sentenced in late February.