Predators contacting kids through Apple Music iTunes profiles
This morning we were notified of a new way that predators are targeting children.
This time it is through Apple Music iTunes profiles. We have never heard of this happening before and neither had the very well informed parents involved.
Their son is 13 and told his parents this week about his data being low on his phone.
The parent explained to me that they were concerned as he had limited apps on his phone, they had even removed safari, and they could not figure out how he had run out of data.
Luckily they are very aware of the dangers online, and it triggered further investigation by these wonderful parents. They were using a home filter and Apple parental controls but neither of them picked this up and again highlights that conversations often and open with your kids is always the best option.
It turns out their son was texting - and had attempted to FaceTime someone overseas who he had met online. He met this person through Apple Music iTunes Profiles, despite having a restricted child account, with limited settings - he is unable to even watch the music videos. However, he went on to explain to his parents how this person was able to connect with him and give him, her phone number (if it is she).
People can write a playlist description on Apple Music and it seems this is what has happened. “She” converses with others by tagging their usernames in. “She” had been communicating with him in this way since March, and they developed shared music interests. It was 4 weeks ago that the boy and her began texting. She writes about how she's depressed, anxious, being bullied; rumours about her having slept with the swim team, and that she’s a minor, she's suicidal, she's being stalked and harassed by her ex, she’s been to the police for help, and they wouldn't help her, she's worried she will start cutting again. His deeply concerned (and rightfully so) parents say all of these comments have played on this lovely young boy’s beautiful and gentle nature.
He has told her to tell an adult, talk to friends, ignore the rumours etc. He said to her in the texts that she sounds like she needs someone to talk to, and can he FaceTime her.
Thankfully the call fails to connect.
He then messaged her and says he'd like to be there for her, and would she like to be his girlfriend, even though they've never met. He sent a photo of himself in his school uniform (logo not showing). She sends back the same filtered fake looking image used for her iTunes profile.
That was the day he spoke to his parents and asked why his data was low, and his parents checked his phone. Thank God they did, I can only imagine what other photos could have been exchanged in his attempts to 'help' her from cutting or worse.
The parents have done everything right and reported this to the police, they have removed his iTunes profile, blocked the phone number and have tightened parental controls so he can only receive messages from people in his contacts, a feature they only unlocked for him a few months ago.
His parents asked me to share with parents, as they were unable to find any information on Apple iTunes profiles, and they were blown away that this has happened.
The parents of this young man and I have absolutely no doubt that this is child grooming and was possibly leading to sexploitation which is on the increase.
What is sexploitation/sextortion?
Sextortion is a hybrid of the words’ sexual’ and ‘extortion.’ It is a serious crime that occurs when someone threatens to distribute your private and sensitive material if you don’t provide them images of a sexual nature, sexual favours, or money.
Things you need to discuss:
They should never accept or respond to messages through any platform from people that they don’t know, assure them it will never be a friend (if it is, they will contact through other means). There may be a sinister side, and accepting or responding is not safe.
Let them know that they can always speak to you without judgment, that you will help them if they make a mistake online, and something goes wrong. They need to know that they should never be afraid to speak up. Make sure that they know even if they have sent a photo (in school uniform, a nude or any kind of image for that matter) they are never going to be in trouble if they are the suspected victim of a predator or a sexploitation/sextortion attempt.
Make sure they know not to pay or respond to the demands at all. They should not engage at all.
Teach them that they should take screenshots if something happens to have evidence if the authorities need to be notified.
If you are in Australia, report here www.accce.gov.au
If you are not in Australia, immediately contact your local Police for advice and to make a report.
Crime Stoppers – 1800 333 000
Kids Help Line – 1800 551 800
Lifeline - 131114
As always, you can contact us at email@example.com
How to tighten up the settings on Apple Music.
Apple Music allows people to find your profile and follow you, so they can keep track of what you're listening to and access your shared playlists. But what if you don’t want people to access your profile? Fortunately, you can use the app just for yourself without having to worry about having someone snooping through your profile.
Here's how to make your profile private if you pay for a subscription you can choose who's able to access it:
1. Open the Apple Music app.
2. Tap Listen Now in the bottom-left corner of the page.
3. Select your profile in the top-left corner.
4. Tap on your profile name to view your profile.
5. Choose Edit.
6. Under Who Can Follow Your Activity, select People you approve.
Unfollow and block users
Go to your profile.
Under Following or Followers, tap a person to go to their profile.
On the right side of their profile, tap the More button
Tap Unfollow to stop following them.
Tap Block to block a user from seeing your profile. People that you block won't see your music or find your profile in Apple Music.
Report a concern
If you see something offensive on a user's profile or in a user-created playlist, you can report it to Apple and they will investigate the issue. You can report a concern with any content that an Apple Music user uploads or shares.
Items that you can report include:
To report an offensive name or image:
Go to the user's page or playlist's page.
On your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, tap the More button On your Android device, tap the More button
Choose Report a Concern.
Please feel free to share this information.
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As always, you can contact us to speak at your school or business by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org