CircleIt Logo
July 14, 2022

The Dangers of Social Media For Kids

Digital privacy, including private chat, is becoming more and more important in the battle to keep children safe online.

CircleIt's private chat is end-to-end encrypted

In Springfield, Massachusetts a man was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison on child pornography charges. While this is a sad and disgusting crime, it is even more sad on how the man committed it. He used Facebook Messenger to lure a young child from the Philippines into sending him nude photos in exchange for money.

Criminals are everywhere on social media. Have them use a platform that respects data privacy

If this were an isolated incident, it would be terrible. The fact that it is a regular occurrence is horrifying. Across the social media landscape, children remain unprotected from those wishing to do them harm. In addition to not protecting children from these dangers, social media companies like Meta, Snapchat and TikTok are banking billions of dollars at the expense of the lives of children.

The Social Dilemma Runs Deeper Than Clout or Bullying

When people complain about the negative impacts social media has had on society, they are quick to complain about encouraging vanity and cyberbullying. While these are problems, the issues run much deeper and have far worse consequences than low self-esteem. While Meta has worked to actively bury reports linking their Instagram platform to clinical depression and anxiety disorders among teens, they could not bury a report showing that they endangered child models on their platform.

Social media leads to anxiety, depression and even danger. Data privacy needs to be respected. A young girl’s dream to become a model was turned into a nightmare by a photographer that didn’t care about her safety. “Jane” (name changed to protect her identity) and her mother were contacted by a photographer who had made a career out of photographing children. He was known to have paid families up to $1,000 per shoot. Jane’s stepfather thought it was fishy, so he used a fake profile to talk with the photographer, a man named Grant Durtschi. In a chat, Durtschi admitted he was selling the photos to pedophiles. The FBI set up a sting and arrested Durtschi, but he was able to post bail.

Durtschi was using Instagram to post photos, where the pedophiles would message him and purchase the photos via PayPal. After he was arrested and indicted, he was able to continue this practice by creating other Instagram accounts. One such account had over 90,000 followers. An investigation by Forbes revealed hundreds of accounts posting the same types of sexualized images of children.

It turns out that while Meta (parent company of both Facebook and Instagram) takes a strong public stance on the exploitation of minors, the systems they have in place for monitoring such behavior are relegated to having concerned citizens reporting the content. Shouldn’t a company worth $118 billion invest some of that money into protecting the most vulnerable users of the platforms?

Why Meta Fails To Protect Children

The truth about Meta and their concern for the young users of their technology is that they don’t care. They are willfully ignorant of harmful behaviors, and in most cases, complicit in the crimes themselves. As you may recall, we discussed lawsuits that had been filed in 8 states, alleging Meta willfully exploits young users of both Facebook and Instagram in the name of profit.

By creating technology that they are well aware is addictive and harmful to teens and pre-teens and then selling the data collected by the user behavior to advertisers, Meta has made billions of dollars while doing little to nothing to protect these very children.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised that a company that exploits children for profit isn’t too aggressive when users of their platforms do the same thing.

However, Meta is not the only social media company that is creating a dangerous environment for children.

Snapchat is a "Haven For Preadators"

We’ve told you of the young girl in Michigan that was lured by an older man and then kept prisoner in his home via Snapchats “Map” feature. And there are hundreds of other cases just like it across the globe. Snapchat has just begun offering advertising on their platform as well, and for the first time in over 10 years, posted a profit.

The profit motive at the expense of children has now permeated Snap Inc., which means that more data will be sold and more children will be exploited. In fact, the group ParentsTogether has recently petitioned Snapchat to help protect children.

The petition reads:

“Snapchat must do better to protect children from grooming, sexual abuse, and exploitation on Snapchat. Snapchat must immediately commit to proactively using PhotoDNA to look for both photos and videos of child sexual abuse material and reporting all material to law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.”

So how do we prepare our kids for a digital world when the world seems to not care about their mental health or safety?

The Solution is a Healthy Alternative to Social Media That Respects Data Privacy

As more people are becoming aware of the nefarious practices of the social media giants, they are looking for answers, and are finding them with CircleIt. We have created a truly encrypted platform and have committed to keep our generational platform free, private, and secure. Why? Because our platform was built to connect loved ones privately, becoming a leader in the alternative social media apps race.

When children are connected to those that truly love them, their self-esteem skyrockets. In addition, the use of an end-to-end encrypted platform keeps their information secure. CircleIt has turned down hundreds of offers from data brokers to purchase the information our members entrust to us. We have rejected every single one, and will continue to do so. Because you and your children deserve a place where you can all just be a family.