FBI officials say it is becoming easier for child predators to take advantage of families through social media, as the number of crimes against children increases year after year.
Before you post that adorable photo of your child, the FBI warns it could be used by child predators.
Officials say predators are targeting “anyone and everyone” out there.
Amanda Videll with the FBI said an uptick in crimes against children began during the COVID pandemic with more children online longer, but post-COVID, the trend continues to increase.
“At least over the past six years we’ve seen the number of reported cases to us increase two-fold, many times over, year after year,” Videll said.
In fiscal year 2023, the FBI opened more than 5,200 crimes against children cases, arrested more than 2,800 individuals involved in the sexual exploitation of children, and located and identified more than 5,200 child victims.
And when News4JAX asked about this trending crime, one man said parents need to take this seriously.
Louis said posting kids on social media may be a bad idea.
“They just need to be very careful,” Louis said.
Predators can use an image of a child to alter it or use it to find where the child is located through something called metadata, it’s like a thumbprint for a digital image.
Finding the metadata on your phone is easy. First, you take a picture of yourself and then pull up that picture. You can see all of the information, including your physical location.
Some predators are using the images to manipulate their victims to get more photos or money.
“I think we are seeing AI technology play into all types of crimes that are happening but definitely against children as well,” Videll said.
As this AI-generated content is developed, these predators will try to use that to try to convince their victims that they need to pay up or give them more explicit content and compromising photos.
Protecting your child can begin with a conversation. Tell them about the dangers of social media and how one innocent picture can be used against them by a predator.
Parents who want to learn more about protecting their children from predators can meet with the FBI this week at Creekside High School.