If you’re not familiar with Fortnite, it’s the most popular video game going right now. It started out as a really bad zombie survival game, then it ripped off a better game, PUBG, and became the sensation it is today. Fortnite is what’s called a battle royale game. Basically, 100 players are dropped into a map and the last surviving team or player wins. The main reason why Fortnite is eating PUBG’s lunch and why it’s so popular is that Fortnite is free to play.
Recently, a big deal was made about sexual predators being on Frotnite because, in New Jersey, a number of online predators were arrested in an online sting. It became a big deal when it was reported that some of the predators may have been grooming their victims through games like Minecraft and Fortnite. While it wasn’t reported how many of these predators were allegedly using Fortnite, since it’s the most popular game right now, Fortnite was very prevalent in most of the headlines talking about this sting.
So, that takes us back to the headline’s question. Are your kids in danger from predators while playing Fortnite? Well, yes and no. Fortnite is as about as dangerous as any other online utility that your kids use. Do I think it’s a pedophile playground like messaging app Kik? I don’t think it’s even close, but since Fortnite is where all the kids are, odds are there will be a predator here and there.
As a parent, you should treat online games just like you would social media. Know who is on your kid’s friends list. Make sure they’re not chatting with someone they don’t know in the real world. Most importantly be honest with them that not every person they may talk to on the internet has their best interest in mind.
Noted tech blog The Verge, recently made a post where they said mobile messaging app Kik is the de facto app used by online predators. While I have all the respect in the world for The Verge, I do have to ask the question where have you been? I’ve been saying this for the past four years since Kik became a thing. As I am wont to say, Kik has long been known as a haven for sex offenders, pedophiles, and child porn collectors.
Seriously though, while I’m just some guy on a website with a limited audience, it’s good to see a respected voice in the tech industry finally bring this problem with Kik to light. Maybe this could be the start of Kik getting off their asses to finally do something about their sordid reputation and the degenerates that dwell on their service.
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.
The problem with Yellow, as is with most apps, is there’s no real verification of identity, and anybody can enter any age they want. This has caused the FBI to issue a warning about the app stating that it is being used by predators. While I personally have yet to hear about an arrest made because of Yellow, that’s not to say it hasn’t happened.
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.
This is an article from the StarNews Online, from Wilmington, North Carolina, about Lucas Michael Chansler. If you’ll recall Chansler is said to have extorted explicit pictures from at least 350 underage girls that he met on MySpace and Stickam. I don’t want to talk about Chansler per se but how easy it was to find some of his victims…
Special Agent Lawrence Meyer testified some of the girls in Chansler’s computer database were easy to identify. He told the court some of the girls put a lot of information about themselves in their profiles, like their full name and state.
Others, like a victim in Wilmington, were tracked down thanks to clues from the images they sent to Chansler.
Meyer said an FBI analyst found a photo of a girl on Chansler’s computer that included a radio station banner in the background. The analyst searched the radio call numbers and it led him to Wilmington.
Another victim in Texas was leaning against a plate glass window in her school library. Reflected in the window was the school sign.
I remember another story from years ago where a predator was able to identify his victim by the number on her soccer uniform and showed up at one of her games.
Use this as an opportunity to tell you kids that even the smallest amount of information shared with a stranger can lead to them being found in real life by a predator.
This past week Facebook changed their privacy policies for teens between the ages of 13 and 17. Before, all their posts and information were only visible to their friends list. Now it can be viewed by the world at large. I emphasize can be because this doesn’t automatically mean that everything ever that your kid has posted on Facebook will all of a sudden be made public. What it does mean that as a parent you’re going to have to be even more vigilant now of your kids’ behavior on Facebook.
Let’s face it, teens are stupid. Yes, even yours. When I was a teen I was stupid too and so were you. While teens’ Facebook profiles will still be friends only as default you just know some idiot teen is going to set their profile to public. Ideally you should have the e-mail address and password used for your kids’ Facebook. However, if you’re one of those ‘trusting’ parents *rolls eyes* here is how you can tell who your kids are sharing their Facebook posts with. You really should have their sign in information though because even if your Facebook friends with your kids they can still hide posts from you or anyone of their choosing.
Facebook says they’re doing this to give teens more freedom but in reality it probably has more to do with advertising. Also Facebook never had a predator problem as much as MySpace did. With these new ‘freedoms’ they’re giving teens that’s all about to change.
Police call ‘Snapchat’ app perfect for child sex predators:
Teens’ Nude Photos From Snapchat Lead to Investigation:
If you haven’t heard of Snapchat yet it’s an app that’s available for both iOS and Android devices. That means it’s available for iPods, iPhones and iPads along with Android phones and tablets. It allows the user to take a picture or video send it to a friend but the picture or video deletes itself after a few seconds. Basically what it’s intended for, even though Snapchat may say otherwise, is for the user to be able to send explicit photos to someone without the recipient being able to save them.
Here is how you can use the parental controls on iOS devices.For Android there are several parental control apps in the Google Play Store.
That’s a creepy title if I say so myself.
Facebook developing technology to allow access to children under 13:
This isn’t a new idea actually. It usually crops up about once a year. If I could be bothered I’d post the last time I talked about this. It’s in the archives somewhere. You go look for it.
Anyway I’ll probably just say the same thing I said in my last post about it. This is a horrible idea. The article states that Facebook is looking into technology that would allow children under 13 to use their site with parental supervision. There’s some huge flaws in that theory. The first is whatever technology Facebook can come up with it will take about five minutes for online predators to figure out to circumvent it. And while encouraging parental supervision is a good thing unfortunately it’s not an absolute. How many stories have I posted where kids were able to access Facebook anytime anywhere with no parental supervision to be found?
Bottom line is if Facebook decides to pull the trigger on this idea nothing good will come of it.