CHICAGO – Parents may be unintentionally exposing their children’s photos to child predators based on their privacy settings and what hashtags they use.
Carly Yoost with the non-profit Child Rescue Coalition said that by the age of two, 90 percent of children already have a social media presence, thanks to their proud parents.
Yoost said they launched the campaign to educate parents to pause and think before they post.
Some of the top hashtags searched by would-be criminals preying on partially undressed kids are these:
The list includes many more.
Yoost isn’t telling parents to stop posting, but she's saying parents need to think before they post a certain picture or certain hashtag.
“Eighty-nine percent of parents haven't checked their privacy settings in over a year and a lot of people think they have a private social media platform are often surprised to go into their settings and find a lot of their images are public,” Yoost said.
The people behind the Kids for Privacy campaign are the same people behind the free computer technology used by law enforcement agencies so they can hunt down, arrest and prosecute online child predators. Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies access IP addresses where someone is clearly in possession of child pornography.
Their database currently shows 57 million unique IP addresses containing child pornography of kids 12 and under.
Will County Prosecutor James Glasgow has been using the child protection system, or CPS, software for years. Over 100 cases were successfully prosecuted because of the free service.
Stanley Reinke got six years for decades of abuse to three underage girls—all on videotape. David Vaksdal got 18 years behind bars for running a child porn website. To join it, subscribers had to prove, with photos, that they had had sex with a minor. The sting led to 200 suspects in 14 countries.
The evidence was so solid with the web based data that victims didn’t have to come forward in court.
As for organization’s hashtag campaign, no one is saying your child’s photo will be traded or sold as child pornography, but some predators may be exposed to more than you would be comfortable with all because you posted a certain photo or used a certain hashtag.
“We’re choosing to share their images online and we need to make sure their privacy is being thought of and protected,” Yoost said.
In the last year, over 1,400 unique IP addresses were in possession of child porn in Chicago alone. In Illinois, that number is over 2,000.