It's every parent's worst nightmare; to have their child groomed online and persuaded to post explicit photos of themselves to strangers.
That's exactly what happened to an 11-year-old daughter in Stockport, United Kingdom. The girl's mother Rachel---which isn't her real name---didn't allow her daughters to install social media apps on their iPads, except for Spotify, which allowed her 11-year-old to listen to music before bed. Rachel received emails in the address she created for her daughter, and many of them were from Spotify stating her (daughter's) playlists were removed for breaching terms and conditions. Upon confronting her daughter about it and asking enough pointed questions, Rachel got a 'sinking feeling' and immediately contacted Spotify and relayed what she learned.
Spotify users can't message each other or send images, but these strangers who talked to the 11-year-old found a way to contact her. They told Rachel's daughter to create personal playlists and they would change the name of the playlists to messages, save them, and the girl would reply by doing the same. This went on long enough until the pedophiles asked her to upload explicit photos to the playlists. A user can upload an image to a playlist as a custom album cover, and that's what this girl did. Spotify told Rachel that the platform was never intended to be used this way, and that they would forward the request (to have the images taken down) to the team. After multiple reports to have her daughter's account and playlists taken down, the explicit images have finally been deleted.
"The police officer who came to our house said she had not heard of Spotify being used like this so she was quite shocked," Rachel said. "They said they would try and track down the email address of the man who asked her for a video but if he lives in another country there isn't much they can do.
"That's why I am so determined to spread awareness of this to make other parents aware as we had no idea this could happen. I think in my daughter's eyes the people she was messaging were not real people.
"Because she is so young we hadn't had a proper chat about explicit photographs or anything like that. But I have taught kids under the age of ten googling how sex works. I don't think education is keeping up with the online world."
Article originally posted by Manchester Evening News: