An 8-year-old girl from Detroit was tricked into sending nude pictures of herself over the livestreaming app Live.Me. The person who requested the pic has not been apprehended, however, he is said to have posed as 13-year-old boy in order to get the pictures.
While it’s reprehensible that any human being would ask for such things, it does show a greater problem when it comes to parenting in a digital age. The girl’s mother was not aware the girl had the app even though she says she regularly checks her daughter’s phone. I’ll leave current parents of young children to debate whether or not 8-years-old is an appropriate age for a child to have their own cell phone. Anyway, the girl’s mother said the girl only had the app on her phone for a day and a half and the mother also thought the app was just a game.
As I posted previously, according to Live.Me’s terms of service a user has to be at least 13 to use the app, but you have to be at least 18 to download it. There’s actually no way for Live.Me to enforce those terms. They’re basically there so Live.Me isn’t held liable in just such a situation.
If you’re a parent of today’s kids whose worlds revolve around their devices, you need to educate yourself on what apps are safe and which ones aren’t. You also need to know how to enable parental controls on your kids’ devices. Here are the instructions for Andorid devices, and here are the instructions for devices using Apple’s iOS. If you’re not technically inclined, it may seem like a daunting task to keep your children safe online, but isn’t it worth it to take the time to learn? Your kids’ safety may just depend on you taking the time.
I recently received a tip about a livestreaming app for mobile devices called Live.Me. With the app, anyone can livestream video from wherever they are and viewers, or followers, are able to leave comments. The internet, being what it is, has caused problems for some users of the app.
While I was unable to find any arrests related to Live.Me there have been two separate sets of parents who have complained about the app to their local news channels. In one instance, a 9-year-old girl from Colorado was allegedly threatened and coerced into taking her clothes off on camera. In another instance, a 12-year-old Florida girl was reportedly approached on the app for explicit pictures.
At this point I decided to download the app for myself to see what it’s all about. On the surface it reminds me of Stickam, the now defunct web cam site. A good number of the streamers on Live.Me were scantily clad females. The age of the streamers isn’t always displayed and the app doesn’t really require any age check for it to be used. According to their terms of service, a user has to be at least 13 to use the app, but you have to be at least 18 to download it. I have no idea on how they can actually enforce any of that, which leads me to believe they probably aren’t. Live.Me also says they don’t allow nudity or explicit sexual contact of any kind, but again it’s unknown how they’re monitoring for such content, if they’re monitoring for it at all.
One thing that particularly bothered me about the app was the ‘Nearby’ feature. As far as I can tell, even if you disable your location, it still shows you people near you who are broadcasting live on the app. Location is disabled by default but that doesn’t appear to affect the Nearby feature. Even the amount of miles between you and someone watching your stream is too revealing for me. That’s all some predators need to begin gathering information on a victim.
So in conclusion, as with most apps, it’s the parent who has to be the ultimate guardian. Check your children’s phones and tablets regularly for apps like this and then proceed responsibly.
Thanks to Cynthia for the tip.