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Police Raise Safety Concerns: Do You Know Who Your Child Is Talking To Online?

Darpan News Desk, 12 Feb, 2020

    The Canadian Centre for Child Protection, through its Cybertip.ca program, wants to make parents aware of the app Cake — Live Stream Video Chat and its risks for teens after recently learning about the app and its significant volume of sexual content.


    Some of the popular gaming and messaging apps connect youth with complete strangers. Do you know who your child is talking to online? Keep up with the latest online trends among youth by signing up for Cybertip alerts


    What are the concerns?


    This app’s content is primarily sexual in nature

    In less than 12 hours of creating an account we received four unsolicited messages with sexual content, including a sexually explicit video from a male user. Sections of the app include the “Hot List” and “Top Cakers” where the top 10 profile pictures are exclusively young females, most of whom are in provocative poses. Our profile picture was NOT sexually suggestive.


    Teens can connect and share videos with anyone, which increases the risk of sextortion

    Cake’s one-on-one video chat encourages users to connect to people they don’t know in “Go Private Random.” They can also join private chat rooms or public broadcast rooms. This creates opportunities for individuals to seek out youth and gradually manipulate them into sharing sexual images or videos, which can be captured as screenshots or video without your teen ever knowing.


    Live streaming videos earns users cash value, which encourages risk-taking behaviour

    The app encourages users to share live video broadcasts and to video chat with new people by rewarding them with “diamonds,” which can be exchanged for cash value. Users can also earn “diamonds” from others by completing specific requests made by users watching the live stream and broadcasting parties. This may encourage teens to take risks like talking to people they do not know, who can ask them to perform tasks that may progress to being sexual in nature.


    No enforcement of minimum age requirement means younger kids are using Cake

    While the Cake app is intended for users who are at least 13 years old, this is buried in the Terms of Use and is not enforced, even when a new user enters a birth date indicating they are younger than 13.


    What can parents do?

    If your child is under the age of 13, they should NOT be on Cake. The highly sexual nature of the app also raises questions about why youth need to use it at all. Have a conversation with your teen about choosing a more appropriate app for live streaming with their friends.


    Talk to your teen about the risks of live streaming, including that anyone watching can capture a screenshot or video without them knowing.


    Encourage your teen to talk to you about weird or uncomfortable moments they encounter. Emphasize that it is never too late to come to you for help, even if they have made a mistake.


    If they are going to use the app, review the security/privacy settings with your teen and take these steps:


    Select “Discover” in the bottom right corner of the screen and then the settings icon in the top right corner.


    For the “Profile Visible” setting, select “Hidden” so your teen is not visible to all users.


    For the “Private Call” setting, select “Not Accept” so your teen does not get calls from unknown users.


    Review your teen’s “Friends,” “Followers,” and “Following” lists. Ask your teen if they know each person offline and have them delete the rest.


    What do I do if my child is being sextorted?


    Live-streaming apps that connect youth with users they do not know increase the risk of sextortion. If you think your child is being sextorted, Cybertip.ca can help.

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