I initially posted about the app Yellow here. At the time of that posting I said that it reminded me of Omegle because it encouraged users to make new friends on Snapchat, you know, as in random strangers. Since that time it seems that Yellow has upped its game and turned into an almost duplicate clone of the infamous dating app Tinder. You swipe right for people you like and left for those that you don’t.
I installed the app, and at first I entered my correct age upon installation, and it only allowed me to view people only as young as 18. While creepy for someone of my age, it’s still legal. However, when I reinstalled the app and entered my age as being 14, it allowed me to view the profiles of any of its users that are underage. You don’t even need a Snapchat account to use Yellow anymore.
I know it’s tough for parents to keep up with every app on their kids’ smart phones but I would recommend that parents keep their eyes out for this one. Again, I’ve included a picture of the app’s icon at right. Yep, as of right now, it’s just a yellow box.
If you think there’s no harm to your kids sharing pictures online remember this: it doesn’t take much information gleaned from the pictures of your kids for predators to find out where they live or go to school. All it takes is something as innocent as picture of them in a soccer uniform or having something with their school colors in the background of the picture, and those are only two examples.
While it has yet to reach the absurd levels of predators like Kik, if the FBI is worried about Yellow then so am I, and so should you if you have children.
18-year-old Jerry Johnsey, of Auburndale, Florida, and 16-year-old Byron Lasiak, of Winter Haven, have been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 67-year-old Donald Merkley, also of Winter Haven. Johnsey allegedly knew his victim through craigslist and was having sex with the victim prior to this. In this instance the pair went to the victim’s house and during sex Johnsey allegedly put Merkley in a chokehold until the victim fell unconscious. At that point Johnsey and Lasiak are said to have taken turns beating the victim in the head with a baseball bat. They then found some gasoline and spread it around the house before taking $2.75 they found on a counter.
If you’re looking for a friend with benefits or just a one night stand, I would avoid sites like craigslist. Due to its low level of entry and perceived level of anonymity it is a criminal haven. Hook-ups like this in the past from craigslist have led to crimes ranging from robbery to rape to murder. While craigslist isn’t the only dating avenue where these crimes happen I would say that it is the most prevalent one.
There’s a documentary that just came out that I’ve been hearing a lot about lately. It’s called “I am Jane Doe”, and it’s about several underage women who were trafficked on Backpage who are suing or have tried to sue the predatory and greedy website. The film’s creator, Mary Mazzio, recently spoke with KIRO Radio in Seattle, and recounted a tale about how she became aware of the problem…
“Sex trafficking of children actually happens in the United States? This was an epiphany for me,” she said. “I just assumed this was a crime that happened in developing countries. Certainly not 15 minutes from near where I lived. When I dove into it I was shocked by the breadth and the scope of this problem.”
Ms. Mazzio was reading about the Boston lawsuit where two underage girls sued Backpage for allowing them to be trafficked on the site. They were only identified in the suit as Jane Does. Unfortunately the lawsuit was dismissed and the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal.
Ms. Mazzio’s reaction is not a new one. It’s a reaction that a lot of people have when they first find out about what’s going on in their neighborhood or city, and it’s a symptom of why sex trafficking is not in the public eye more. Not only does nobody want to believe that it’s going on all around them but no one wants to hear about it. In the mind of many it’s too depressing of a subject to believe or even comprehend. We’d rather shut our minds off to it than deal with the problem head on.
I hope that I am Jane Doe is seen by more than people who are already advocates against Backpage. I really hope it finds an audience and enlightens them about the true nature of Backpage and that child sex trafficking is not just someone else’s problem.
A trailer for the movie can be viewed below. I fully intend on seeing the movie once it makes a wider release.
Just because apps like Kik and Snapchat have become more popular with online predators, that doesn’t mean that you can let your guard down when it come to Facebook. When it comes to your kids’ mobile devices not only do you have to keep an eye on Facebook but Facebook Messenger as well. Facebook Messenger only appears as ‘Messenger’ on mobile devices but uses the icon seen at right. Even if your kids only use the desktop version of Facebook you should probably still know their login and password as the desktop version now has a messenger that is just as robust as the mobile one. This would probably be a good chance to also educate your kids that not everyone on the internet is who they say they are and if they’re offering them money they’re more than likely doing so for nefarious purposes.
I recently read a press release where a new website is attempting to pick up the adult ad market where Backpage supposedly left off. Before we get into what’s wrong with that, let’s not forget that Backpage is still making money from sex ads, so reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated.
This new site, which I will not give free publicity to, is run by a husband and wife couple who use this as their justification to opening a Backpage clone…
“The people who were affected by the shutdown… we know some of these people. They are our friends. They’re not traffickers and they’re not being trafficked. It’s their choice and that was their livelihood. Now it’s just gone.”
First off, as I mentioned, Backpage is far from gone. While they may have shuttered the adult ads sections, the ads themselves have only migrated to the personals section, and as of this posting Backpage is still allowing that to happen. Secondly, a husband and wife team that are friends with ‘not traffickers’? That makes me wonder if they’re a husband and wife team already engaged in sex work. Lastly, I went to this website, and checked out their ‘ads of choice’, and the first ad I saw was advertising two women from overseas, who tend to be trafficked on sites like these.
So once again, it seems that the majority of people who have any kind of choice on these websites are the pimps and traffickers. That’s not even mentioning that I doubt this new site’s operators have the financial backing to weather the legal storms that have inundated Backpage.
38-year-old Mario Alston, of Las Vegas, is accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl from nearby Henderson, Nevada. Alston allegedly placed an ad on craigslist that the victim is said to have responded to. The contents of the ad are as of yet unknown, however, the conversation soon moved to the mobile messaging app Kik, where the victim is said to have given Alston her address. When the girl’s parents weren’t home Alston reportedly went to the home and sexually assaulted the girl.
I know this sounds like just another Kik kreeper, because the app is rampant with sex offenders and pedophiles, but there is something I wanted to address from the article I linked to.
Detectives say Alston and the 13-year-old started communicating non-stop on the “Kik” app. It’s an app where messages can be hidden from parents.
While Kik is a preferred tool of predators, the messages are only hidden from parents if parents choose not to check their kids’ phones. Despite all of its faults it’s not an app designed to be hidden from parents, you just have to now what to look for. I’ve even included a picture of what the app icon looks like at right. Both Android phones and iPhones have a button that list all the apps that are on the phone. Don’t just rely on the apps that are on the phone’s main screen. Again, you may trust your child, but do you trust the strangers they may be talking to?
In the past, lawsuits like these were dismissed due to the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The CDA basically states that a website is not responsible for the content that its users post, however if Backpage did in fact edit ads submitted by users, it may make the CDA defense null and void. These lawsuits are in addition to the ones already filed in the states of California, Texas, Washington and Alabama.
Hopefully at least one of these lawsuits will have its intended consequence because let’s not fool ourselves, even amid its current legal woes Backpage is still making money off the victims of sex trafficking. The fight is far from over, but Backpage is showing a vulnerability in its legal armor.
There’s not a ton of information on this, but 20-year-old India Kirksey of Cincinnati is accused of allegedly molesting a 4-year-old boy while livestreaming the act on Periscope. A number of media outlets say that Kirksey is a mother but no one is saying whether or not the victim is her child. Her family is saying that Kirksey has special needs, whether or not these needs mean that Kirksey is mentally incapable of telling the difference between right and wrong remains to be seen. The crime was reported by someone in Texas who had allegedly stumbled across the livestream.
While I’m not absolving Kirksey for her alleged actions, if I had to hazard a guess I would say there was someone on the other end of the livestream who probably encouraged Kirksey into her actions. Every time I’ve ever posted a story about a mother who molested one of their children, be it recorded or not, it was usually at the encouragement of a boyfriend. I’d be very surprised if we don’t hear news about a second arrest in this case.
Using the screen name of ‘Redneck Rick’, Wilbanks is said to have posed as a 14-year-old boy who went to the victim’s school.
Wilbanks asked the girl for photos of her wearing athletic apparel and a swimsuit. Eventually, Wilbanks asked for nude photos of the girl, court records state.
The girl refused at first, but Wilbanks told her he would show the photos to other people unless she sent more, according to the court records.
Court records indicate the girl was visibly upset and crying in several of the images. Wilbanks told her not to look so upset and to smile, according to those records.
Police in Washington were alerted to the messages by the victim’s mother. Homeland Security then became involved in the investigation, which led to the arrest of Wilbanks.
If there is anything lower than a pedophile it has to be someone who’s entrusted to defend the public who’s also a pedophile. Let’s also not forget that no 11-year-old needs to be on Kik, not only becuause Kik’s terms of service require their users to be older, but also because Kik is a hive of sex offenders, pedophiles, and child porn collectors. All your kids need to be on Kik is a phone or tablet and a wi-fi connection.
UPDATE 2/11/2017: This past Thursday, Wilbanks was ordered to remain in custody after he allegedly destroyed evidence. He also cried in court. Authorities say that he also communicated with his victim on Kik while on duty.
Early reports say that the student was a recent transfer to the school and witnesses say that the suspect was going to fight someone at lunch before pulling the gun and firing randomly outside. Please keep in mind that early reports of shootings like this can often be rumors and are subject to change.
The suspect was caught off campus by a plainclothes detective after the shooter allegedly threw the gun onto the roof of a building. The gun has been recovered. So far the shooter has not been named due to his age. Also there’s been no word on how the gun was obtained.
Since he was a new kid and was allegedly supposed to fight someone I can almost hear the ‘bullying’ cry going out. Let’s wait before we hear more details before we start the weeping and gnashing of teeth. As with the majority of shooters, it could very well turn out that he’s the bully. Even if he isn’t, it’s still no reason to try to kill someone.
UPDATE 2/7/2017: Investigators say that a fight between the shooter and four other students started on social media. No word what the fight was about yet.