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"Whispers" App Causing Worries For Parents

A new anonymous social media app called "Whispers" is generating a lot of buzz and concern.
A new anonymous social media app called "Whispers" is generating a lot of buzz and concern. 

On any given day apps are developed and more than likely, your teen knows more about them than you do.

"We are finding children as young as 4th grade are often times very much involved with those social networking sites," Pam Weaver with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said.

Some of those sites and apps can be dangerous- such is the case with Whispers. It is an app that lets user anonymously share their secrets- some of the innocent, some of them shocking. The concern is that this app opens the door for child predators.

"They are very good at what they do. They know how to groom kids to gain their trust and confidence," Weaver said.

Once a predator has a child's confidence, it is easy for a predator to locate a child. Whisper notifies you of posts created within a radius of 10 miles. 

"I don't think there's true privacy with anything that goes online to be honest. There's always a way someone can capture it, share it, perhaps find out who sent it," RIT lecturer Mike Johansson said.

It is difficult for the people who are trying to protect communities from these predators. It is more than "stranger-danger" when it comes to your kids. Technology has changed to the point where the family computer is no longer family-oriented. 

The guys that work the task force are experts with technology. But having said that, the technology is changing so it makes it very difficult for them to do their jobs because it's constantly changing," FBI agent David Zariczny said.

The Child Exploitation Task Force is made up of cyber-experts who work on the front lines. 

"Child pornography, distribution of images of children; we work those cases. We also work a lot of child prostitution and we also work the exploitation of children across state lines," Zariczny said.

Cases involving apps, like SnapChat, become more difficult to solve. It was not too long ago that a SnapChat breach allowed hackers to collect the usernames and phone numbers of 4.6 million users. 

"If we don't get to it as law enforcement, within a relatively short amount of time that information is no longer kept on servers of the phone companies or on the phones. It totally disappears so we have to respond as law enforcement very quickly and try to get to that information before it's gone," he said.

So the question is- are these apps truly disappearing, or are they self-destructing?

"The anonymity is sort of a trend. First we had SnapChat and now we have Whispers. I think this is a backlash to people's concerns about privacy on things like Facebook and so forth," Johansson said. "People before they are 25 have a very underdeveloped sense of consequences and social media is just ripe for consequences."

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has made it its mission to educate students at school. For tips on how to protect your child online, click here. 


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