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Predators using social media to lure victims
UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Millions of people log on to various social media sites everyday. Many of those people don't have the best intentions.
Between Facebook, Google Plus and Instagram, millions of photos are uploaded everyday. Experts say predators are using those images to find their next victim.
The latest fad-- is called "snapchat." It's icon is a ghost symbolizing the fact that the photos you share with others disappear within 10 seconds- now you see it, now you don't. There is a way you can save those photos though, through the "screen-grab" feature on many phones.
Since the birth of the internet chat room, predators have pretended to be someone online that they are not. It's no different today, a 40-year old could pose as a 13-year-old to get a child to send them pictures or even meet up. "These predators. They know who to target," said Chief Dean Obernesser from the Oneida County Child Advocacy Center. "They know who to look for. They know the type of child to groom online so they can coax that child into sending them what they want. And the child is totally oblivious that it's a 38-year-old white male that they're talking to on the other end."
Local organizations that deal with crimes against children on a regular basis say they are working to keep up with the changes in technology and warn, just because an app says your photo disappears, it doesn't mean it's gone forever!
"If you send it to somebody and they keep it, it's the same as any other picture," said Dawn Catera Lupi, First Assistant District Attorney for Oneida County. "That's out there. It's out there and a million people can have it...it may not be as private as kids think it is."
There's also the danger of something called "geo-tracking." Predators can save a photo that's been uploaded to the web and learn exactly the time and the location the photo was taken. This leads the predator right to the victim. There is a way you can disable the tracking function by turning off the location services on your phone.
"Be aware of what your child is doing. Who they are doing it with," says Lupi. "It's different because it's more challenging to keep up with the technology but it's just the basic keep-an-eye on your kids and know what they are up to."
"The kids always try to stay one step ahead of the parents," said Obernesser. "Just like the bad guys try to stay one step ahead of the cops."