Digital expert warns parents about dangers of premium Snapchat accounts
Many people, including minors, selling nude photos, videos on social media
PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Smartphone apps that let you chat with people all over the world are attracting billions of users. Many are free, but now, there's a new private offering called premium Snapchat, and security experts say it is putting young people at risk.
Selling nude photos and videos of themselves is one of the latest ways people are making money on social media.
Some may be college students trying to offset the cost of a higher education, but experts say the biggest concern is that some of those posting and selling nudes online are minors.
Their parents have no clue because the children have created custom boards on the app and you have to be invited to see this kind of content.
"You can post a picture, you can post a video, you can do a group chat through there now," digital forensic expert Scott Bailey said. "A lot of those videos and pictures being sold are porn-related."
Digital forensic specialists found one young woman willing to post over 100 videos and pictures on Snapchat in return for a $20 Amazon gift card.
Experts said that's a typical form of payment, along with the use of services like Venmo.
"So anyone can set up a Venmo account," Bailey said.
To get the word out about the premium account, users advertise on social media outlets like Twitter.
One ad read, "My sexy bathtime show, still up on my premium."
Another one read, "I'm going to be selling nudes and videos, 7 and 7 for $15."
So what can parents do? Experts say they should check out their kids' Snapchat score. Fairly active Snapchatters have an average score of 60,000.
"We started looking at some others, and it's over a million -- like 1.2 million is their score. That's a huge number, and you would have to ask yourself, 'How?'" Bailey said.
Parents who have control over what apps are downloaded on their children's phones can block private apps, but it's vital to remind children of the dangers they face by exposing themselves to strangers. Those images just may come back to haunt them.
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