Ever wonder what dangers your kids are exposed to on social media? A mom recently went undercover, as an 11 year-old girl, to find out. The stomach churning results have now outraged people around the world.
The Bark Special Projects Team spearheaded the investigation. Bark is a parental control tool that monitors a child’s texts and social media accounts. It uses an algorithm to identify problems, such as cyber bullying and potential child predators. Parents get alerts at the first sign of trouble.
37 Year-Old Mom Posed As 11 Year-Old Girl
Company officials say the Bark investigation was an effort to showcase cyber dangers from the viewpoint of a child. The “child” here was a 37 year-old mom and member of the Bark Special Projects Team. Within minutes of posting “very tame 11 year-old stuff,” explicit messages from adult men started pouring in.
“The speed at which these messages escalated from ‘will you be my girlfriend? Do you have a boyfriend?’ to graphic images of body parts and masterbation – [was] moments,” explained Jordan.
The undercover mom posted an article about her Bark investigation on Medium.com. Millions of people read and shared it. Jordan says Bark has since received hundreds of messages from outraged and worried parents.
“These are vicious, swift issues that can affect your child in the time it takes you to back out of your driveway to go to the grocery store, which is why you need to know that this can happen,” explained Jordan.
Bark Investigation Prompts Online Safety Conversations
Jordan tells Smart Social that Bark has alerted law enforcement authorities to more than 300 potential predators in the last few years. Her number one safety tip for parents: talk with your children about online dangers and make sure they know they can always come to you for help.
“If you think it can’t happen to your child, please think again,” said Jordan.
For more tips, read The Bark Blog’s 9 Ways To Help Kids Stay Safe Online. Make sure to listen to Jordan’s full conversation with Josh about the Bark investigation on the Smart Social Podcast. You can also watch it on the Smart Social YouTube Channel.