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Young And Vulnerable Streamers Targeted By Online Predators

For help with any of the issues mentioned within this article including sextortion and sexual blackmail online, follow the links to our 24hr support service at the end of this article.

Live streaming of digital content to huge audiences is now commonplace with people of all ages broadcasting various aspects of their lives, such as their hobbies, feelings, video gameplay, music – you name it, there will be a stream about it. But as the appetite for more live content grows, there is a darker aspect that internet users should be aware of. Disturbing reports have emerged of streamers being approached by online predators, using the platforms to search and lure children and vulnerable adults (if you are affected visit our Total Access Support area for help).

For most people, live streaming is a great way to share content, connect with friends and to build a large following – which in some cases can lead to them earning serious money from advertising, subscriptions to their channel or from virtual ‘gifts’ that can be exchanged for cash. The possibility of fame and fortune are there for everyone which can put added pressure on streamers to cultivate large followings, often by accepting subscriptions from total strangers.

Some live streaming sites are being targeted by online sexual predators who look for young or vulnerable people streaming content. They then make contact with them or subscribe to their channel offering gifts for performing acts. In some countries, there have been reports of children as young as 3 years of age being contacted by adults through live streaming platforms. With many users broadcasting from their bedrooms at home, there are major concerns about the safety of very young and vulnerable streamers, especially pre-teens who have set up accounts claiming to be older or streamers with disabilities or learning difficulties.

“It’s very important to consider personal safety when streaming online. Live streaming is one of the internet’s most exciting features, but unfortunately like everything else online, it does carry certain risks. We would urge the parents of young internet users and carers of vulnerable internet users to have a conversation about the dangers that can exist on these platforms and ensure that they know where to go for help if they need it. It would also be a very good idea to check they have an understanding of basic security settings for each platform they use.”

Dan Raisbeck, Co-Founder, The Cybersmile Foundation

The appetite for live video content is sizeable. One of the newest and fastest growing live streaming platforms is Chinese owned Live.me, which has already become one of the highest grossing streaming apps in the U.S., paying out over one million dollars worth of gifts to streamers in just seven months. With over 170 million users worldwide, streaming platforms are becoming a very lucrative online industry, and as competition in the market grows, more financial incentives are being offered to attract users.

If you are affected by any issues mentioned in this post we can help! Visit our Cyberbullying and Online Abuse Help Center or alternatively, check out our Total Access Support area to find out the various ways we can help you with your particular problem. For further information about Cybersmile and the work we do, please explore the recommendations below.

Have you had any experience with this problem when streaming online? Tweet us @CybersmileHQ.