A concerned father from Illinois is warning parents this week about an unknown feature hiding in a kid-friendly app that his daughter uses frequently.
Brad Summer’s 7-year-old daughter, Madison, loves to use the Musical.ly app to make goofy lip-sync duets with her cousins.
Though Brad says he closely monitors Madison’s tech usage—as the app is downloaded on his and his wife’s phones—and she’s only able to use it when her parents are around, he was completely unaware that there was a messaging component to Musical.ly.
It wasn’t until his daughter began receiving messages within the app from a person purportedly posing as a 9-year-old named Jessy that Brad realized the hidden danger other parents may not be aware of.
“First I want to say how proud of our daughter I am and want this to be a warning to your families,” Brad writes on Facebook.
After Madison started receiving messages from “Jessy,” the purported 9-year-old began asking her to send nude photos, and pictures of herself without a shirt.
Thankfully, Madison alerted her parents, and Brad took matters into his own hands.
“Please, tell your kids to let you know if anyone ever asks something like this, let them know it’s okay to tell you. It has helped us in this situation.”
He contacted local authorities, who took the phone to retrieve all possible information to track down this predator.
Musical.ly does have a page on its website, specifically designed for parents. Among other warnings, it states that children under the age of 13 should not use the app, and also includes privacy information regarding users videos and messages.
“I know many will blame us parents for this happening. But we never thought like predators and I guess we were naive in thinking that our daughter was safe on what we thought to be a kid-friendly app. We have learned the hard way. I ask that you not judge us (many still will) but let our experience teach us all.”
Brad says the detective has since been able to locate the IP address of the person posing as Jessy, and has issued a subpoena to Musical.ly to freeze all records pertaining to this individual.
In just two weeks, Brad’s post has been shared on Facebook more than 83,000 times. His message is for everyone to work together to protect the safety of their children.
“By sharing, we have reached and informed so many families to be on the look out for these pedophiles. This story has spread through almost every continent and the replies have been overwhelmingly touching.”
Musical.ly is not a social networking site, but Madison was still preyed on.
Brad closes his post with a brief encouragement to all parents: “Doing nothing, accomplishes nothing. Doing something, at a minimum gives us hope.”