Expert Says Hashtags Are Putting Children At-Risk

  • By CBS 12 News
  • May 2, 2019

JUPITER, Fla. (CBS12) — Proud parents love posting photos of their cute babies and kids, some facing the camera or wearing no clothes.

They do it innocently enough, but experts say many don’t realize that anyone can search for it through hashtags, even predators.

Child Rescue Coalition, a non-profit organization that aims to protect all children from sexual exploitation using leading-edge technology, are teaching parents an important lesson at Turtle River Montessori Thursday evening.

“A lot of images that parents think are kind of innocent and are sharing with their friends and family, but by hashtagging it, it’s making it searchable, allowing predators to view these images of children,” said founder and CEO Carly Yoost.

Yoost says the photos some parents post of their young children’s lives on social media can pose as a dangerous threat.

They say research shows that by the age of two, 90 percent of children have a presence on social media.

According to CRC, there are three common hashtags that are searchable by a child predator: #pottytraining | #nakedkids | #kidsbathing.

It’s part of their Kids for Privacy campaign that launched last year.

“Almost half of the predators in their collections have images they have taken from social media networks. They go on to download even more dangerous material that is illegal and actually showing the physical abuse of children,” Yoost said.

Right now, CBS12 News learned #PottyTraining has over 471,000 uploaded photos on Instagram.

Most of these kids are not fully clothed.

“It’s only really a matter of time before online abuse turns into real-life abuse, and they start abusing children that they have access to,” Yoost said.

They say child predators not only use the internet to distribute pornography, but also to stalk kids and trade tips with each other on how to seduce them into sexual encounters.

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