Deputies give list of apps sexual predators may use to target children

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WSVN) — The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has put out a list of mobile applications which may be putting children at risk.

After sting where deputies arrested 21 online predators, the sheriff’s office decided to release a list of nine applications frequently downloaded by children that can be utilized by predators for purposes of exploitation.

  • Bumble: It’s similar to the popular dating app, Tinder, however, it requires women to make the first contact. Kids have been known to use Bumble to create fake accounts and falsify their age.
  • Snapchat: It’s one of the most popular apps of 2018. While the app promises users can send a photo or video and it will disappear, recent features allow users to view content for up to 24 hours. Snapchat also allows users to see your location.
  • Kik: This app allows anyone to contact and direct message your child, sometimes anonymously. Kids sometimes use Kik to bypass traditional text messaging features. Kik gives users unlimited access to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
  • LiveMe: This live-streaming video app uses geolocation to share videos so users can find out a broadcaster’s exact location. Users can earn coins within the app and use them as a way to pay minors for photos.
  • Holla: The app’s makers admit it’s an “addicting” video chat app. It allows users to meet people all over the world in just seconds. Reviewers say they have been confronted with racial slurs, explicit content, and more.
  • Whisper: This is an anonymous social network that promotes sharing secrets with strangers. It also reveals a user’s location so people can meet up.
  • Ask.fm: This app has become known for cyberbullying. The app encourages users to allow people to anonymously ask them questions.
  • Calculator%: This is one of several secret apps used to hide photos, videos, files, and browser history.
  • Hot or Not: This app encourages users to rate other users’ profiles, with the focus on physical appearance. It also allows users to check out people in their area and chat with strangers. The sheriff says the goal of this app is to “hook up.”

The sheriff said checking your child’s phone is a good way to ensure your child does not fall into the hands of a sexual predator.

“I would get into these apps and test each one of them and it may be interesting to see who your child is communicating with,” the sheriff said.

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