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Safe Surfing : Beware of grooming and extortion on social media

Just a few more days and the school holidays will begin. Young people stay in touch with each other through social media. But here too, child molesters lie in wait. At the start of the school holidays on 1 July, Commissioner Bogaert shares a warning from the internet investigators of the Federal Police regarding the use of social media. 

Young people keep in touch via TikTok and Instagram, among others, but they can also make new contacts there with people who do not always have good intentions. "Child molesters use these social media to get in touch with the young generation. They create a profile and pretend to be a minor. Then they join private chat groups. They contact other participants and write to them, for example, that they like them. In this way they gain their trust and eventually receive very intimate photos," Olivier Bogaert warns. 

The online child molester can also pose as a photographer and propose to his target to create a free photo album, a technique that specialists call 'shout-out'. "On his own account, the child molester will present that of another user in a new post. This will arouse the interest of other people who will subscribe to his profile. Then he asks his target, a teenage girl, to share her photos with him. She might then think that her popularity will increase because lots of people will start liking the content." What she doesn't know is that he could also be blackmailing her by threatening to make all her photos public if she doesn't show more of herself. 

Talk about it!  

Child Focus therefore advises parents to talk about it with their children. "For example, it is very important to explain to them that the photos can be shared and stored by certain users. The photo could reappear after a few years and give rise to bullying or threats. Also remember that in situations like this, legal permission is needed to allow the police to access the private conversations so that they can help the victim.

Source: Federal Police

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