She’d been missing for a month when investigators finally found her, and fortunately, she was still alive. Having disappeared without a trace from her home in Cleveland, the 15 year old girl was only found due to her 41 year old kidnapper’s carelessness, as he logged on to her Facebook account and actually sent messages to her friends, which Facebook used to help locate the girl and her abductor.
He’d taken her from Cleveland to his home in Missouri, hundreds of miles away, and to keep her from alerting anyone to the situation, he destroyed her cellphone, the very device that had lead to the abduction.
How did a 15 year old girl come in contact with a 41 year old predator? An app, of course, and one that has had a very creepy history, as it was used by two college students to murder a 13 year old girl, and it is frequented by sexual predators intent on soliciting videos and photos from under age kids; the app is called Kik, and frankly, it will get you killed.
This death trap was created back in 2009 by some Canadian college students, but of course, it wasn’t their intention to create an app that would be perfect for selling drugs or taking advantage of children. Kik is an anonymous messaging app that is hugely popular among teens, as it is free and features the ability send GIFs and photos and video, along with special emojis only found on Kik, which is something kids actually care about.
If you’re on Kik, you have a username, but other than that, there’s no way to identify anyone; the app doesn’t require a phone number to sign up, so all you need is a bogus email and you can message any of the 275 million people on Kik as long as you know their username.
This anonymity may be intended to protect it’s users, but this is a double-edged sword, as it means those bad guys on Kik are protected as well. Why did Kik go this route rather than set up a place for people to message people they know?
Well, that’s been done before, and it seems like they wanted to connect the world. Only thing is, the world kinda sucks.
The “world” has flocked to this app, as more than a quarter of a billion people use this app in countries across the globe, but when you get a large amount of users, some of them are bound to have bad intentions. Drug dealing is very easy on Kik, as you’re as anonymous as you want to be, and whenever you hit up some sketchy dude for bunk weed, there’s no need to worry about the Feds joining your little get-together, as the messages are only stored on the devices that sent and received the messages; Kik claims they couldn’t access any messages if they tried.
Whenever you send an unwanted dick pic or that bag of coke you’re selling, once it’s read it is deleted from Kik’s servers, but before that moment, Kik can still see it. On an anonymous app designed to help you connect with total randy’s (random people), you’re ‘protected’ by not revealing your identity, but anyone can message you as long as they guess your username correctly, which isn’t very difficult.
Whenever a predator is on the hunt for some unsuspecting teen, all they need to do is throw out some usernames, and once they find someone they like, they can send them a message. You can block people and prevent new people from messaging you, but how many kids have those features activated on their devices?
For kids who are willing to branch out and message people across their state or across the country (and have those security measures removed), they are at risk of being deceived by predators, and when everyone’s identity is protected, how can you really be sure someone is who they say they are? It’s super easy to grab pictures of someone off the internet and pose as them, even taking information from social media to sound just like whoever predators are pretending to be.
It’s no secret that teens and kids are easier to manipulate than adults, and when there are millions of them on one app, predators flock to join them. This app was designed to connect people and let you communicate with whoever you want, but it’s so easy to set up a fake profile and pretend to be someone you are not; when your kids sends out a message to some username, how long will it take for them to find out if it’s another kid or some adult intent on doing something terrible?
The intentions behind Kik are good, but with few protections at hand for it’s users, this app doesn’t care so much about connecting good people with good people as it is simply connecting the online world. The only caveat is that the online world isn’t very safe.
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