Mothers on social media have begun removing photos of their children from the internet after a hugely popular account featuring a toddler began generating thousands of disturbing search recommendations and suspicious “saves.”
Despite countless cautionary tales of online predators, many adolescents continue to be granted unfettered access to social media platforms like the Chinese-owned, short-form video app TikTok. Unfortunately, parents are learning that even when they monitor or control their children’s online presence, perversions of innocence are capable and it took a three-year-old internet star to show how.
The TikTok account of Wren Eleanor is run by her mother Jacquelyn and, as described by Fox News Digital, features “seemingly innocent photos and videos of Wren — a blonde-haired, rosy-cheeked toddler doing normal toddler activities — as well as some sponsored content,” which is to be expected for someone with 17 million followers.
However, concerned users began to notice that certain videos were being saved for later reference at an alarming rate and when “Wren” was typed into the search bar, suggestions like “Wren Eleanor hotdog,” “Wren Eleanor pickle,” and “Wren Eleanor scandalous outfits.”
@purepower34 #duet with @o v e r . I t please be careful how much you share. @missingkids @bark_technologies #momsoftiktok #dadsoftiktok #police #kidssafety @Killer Bee Tactical, LLC ♬ original sound – o v e r . I t
Images like the one of the toddler in a cropped, orange shirt were saved at least 45,000 times and the one of her eating a hotdog was said to have been saved 375,000 times.
“I just saw the posts on Tiktok and was absolutely appalled by the story and had decided that I needed to protect my daughter,” Makayla Musick told Fox News Digital.
“Wren’s story brought a lot of light to all the sick people in the world. So, I decided to remove my own daughter’s photos from anyone who is not close family/close friends. My duty as her mother is to protect her from things like this,” Musick went on. “I took the initiative to remove her photos before anything like Wren’s situation could happen to my own daughter.”
The mother in the video above detailing the situation involving Wren explained how her own daughter is not allowed to use TikTok, but when she posted content for her child online she still received unsettling comments.
Calahan Walsh, executive director of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and son of “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh, spoke with Fox News Digital and emphasized the importance of parents remaining vigilant regarding social media dangers.
Having become “such a pervasive part of our lives,” he explained, users “are drawn into this false sense of security.”
“But parents have to understand that when you’re putting this information out to the public, you’re opening up your world to the entire outside world. And anybody on these social media platforms — especially if your, if your page is public — anybody in the entire world can view and consume the content that you’re putting out there,” Walsh reminded, and that is before even delving into concerns about data security and information privacy that the foreign-owned company has the ability to collect.
‘Everything is seen’: Leaked TikTok meeting audio reveals China accessing user data https://t.co/r2ZulbkTgH pic.twitter.com/oGipQQdKOc
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) June 19, 2022
“That’s what these predators are searching for. And because you’re putting that content up on social media, and you’re the ones sharing it,” Walsh explained, “it’s not like they’re the ones creating…that type of content. They’re just consuming it.”
He went further to detail how even innocent photos could be used to later exploit children stating, “It’s very dangerous because we see individuals who prey on children who will try to coerce that child to make sexually explicit content, self-produced content, and send it to that exploiter,” after threatening to expose a more innocuous image that might cause embarrassment.
That “opens up the child to even more types of exploitation, grooming, luring, sextortion, online enticement — all those things,” Walsh said before he concluded, “Think twice. Trust your gut. Understand there’s bad people out there. Try to keep your kids safe.”
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