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VERIFY: Are human traffickers targeting kids through payment apps?

We are used to hearing about issues with Instagram or Facebook, but experts say every app that has a chat function can be used to target kids.

ATLANTA — Yes, human traffickers do contact children through chat function of payment apps

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It seems innocent enough - online apps used to pay other people for food, entertainment, nights out. But Georgia’s First Lady Marty Kemp said she's seen evidence of human traffickers contacting children through the chat function of the apps.

THE QUESTION

Are human traffickers targeting kids through payment apps?

THE ANSWER

Yes, we can verify that yes, this is true.

SOURCE

Titania Jordan is the Chief Parenting Officer at BARK, an internet security company that focuses on keeping kids safe said they were seeing the same thing. 

WHAT WE FOUND

"Certain apps find success by having people spend more time in them. And the way to have people spend more time in an app is to add more features to it. One great way to do that is through chat, messaging, gamification. Children gravitate toward that. And predators know that," she said.

BARK's Technology monitors kids' internet use and flags inappropriate behavior. Jordan said pretty much every app that has a chat function can be used to target kids.

"A payment app facilitates payment between two people, but in the case of say Venmo, there's a whole social media component. You can see each other's interactions, you can message each other. You can comment. You can even engage with people you're not connected with. So whether it's Venmo, Cash App, fill in the blank, a lot of these apps have more than one purpose," she said. 

Jordan said parents have to be aware of the danger to protect against it.

"It's happening and it can happen, and you need to be aware so that it doesn't happen to your child," Jordan said.

So we can verify that yes, this is true. 

She said the best way to protect your children is to educate them. Let them know that this could happen and that they can always talk to you about what they're seeing online and to make sure they know they won't be punished for telling you about it, you just want to keep them safe.

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