HOUSTON (FOX 26) - A FOX 11 report about LiveMe, a live streaming application, has generated a lot of interest in the Houston area. The report found pedophiles are using the app to contact minors and manipulate them to undress or commit sex acts. LiveMe deleted 600,000 accounts following the report.
Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen says apps like LiveMe are on investigators radar everyday in the Houston area.
"This is a whole new world out there that I think many parents are not aware of," he told FOX 26.
Samantha Hernandez with Elijah Rising, a non-profit that works with victims of sex trafficking, says she has seen girls as young as 12 in the Houston area exploited on live streaming apps.
"LiveMe is one of many apps. There are other apps like LiveMe, YouNow or even apps hidden within apps that kids use to go live," she explained.
She saysLiveMe and similar apps used to live stream allow users to share their location -- sometimes unknowingly. Some apps also allow users to compete for rankings or even have a currency system that can be converted to cash.
"We’ve had individuals who’ve been sex trafficked because a predator used an inappropriate video as a way to blackmail that child into doing sex work," Hernandez added.
She says sometimes the apps can be disguised as something else.
"There’s an application that was really popular for a while called 'Calculator +' and it looked like a calculator app on your phone but it was a hidden messaging app underneath that," Hernandez explained.
Rosen says that’s why parents need to research every app on their child’s phone.
"I’m going to admonish every parent that I can that they need to get their children’s passwords and they need to get on their kids social media platforms and find out what they’re doing," Rosen urged.