GROOMERS are targeting vulnerable children on Spotify and coercing them into sharing explicit images and videos.
The sick perverts are targeting accounts on the music streaming app that follow content usually consumed by a younger audience and try to make contact with them.
They often create playlists and set the title as the username of the account they are trying to reach out to with a message encouraging them to share nude content.
Children are told to create their own playlist and change the ‘artwork’ to a naked image of them. These images can be uploaded without any verification checks.
The predators also give instructions on how to make playlists private in a bid to avoid detection.
It comes after a mum told how her 11-year-old daughter was tagged in a playlist telling her to “show a good view” of her genitals.
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Rachel, not her real name, told The Sun: "It felt like the bottom of the world fell out from underneath me.
“It was that horrible feeling that her innocence has gone. She’s 11 years old. She shouldn’t know that this is a thing that people want to do.
“Even some of the language – she shouldn't know these terms for body parts. She’s 11.
“I don’t think me or my husband slept at all the first night. It was constantly running through my head and thinking ‘where do we go from here?’.”
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They told the police and the NSPCC, both of whom had never come across anything like it before.
The girl had acquired hundreds of followers, most of whom are thought to be perverts, after she was eventually pressured into uploading an image.
The horrific ordeal went on for about six months until her account was banned. The account had been set up with an email address that the 11-year-old had no access to.
But when Rachel looked at it to see why she had been banned, she found an email from someone posing as a 12-year-old boy demanding a video of her daughter “pleasuring” herself.
She also found 14 emails from Spotify saying that content had been taken down from the account for breaching the terms and conditions.
But shockingly nine explicit images were left up and Rachel had to report each individual one in order to get them removed.
Experts said paedophiles and sex offenders will exploit anywhere on the internet in order to satiate their sick desires.
Safeguarding trainer Gabriella Russo told The Sun: “Anyone who is slightly aware of internet safety with kids knows there’s a certain amount of things to be aware of.
"People know to look out for Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, but Spotify is not it. We want people to be aware of it.
“We need to start education young. If a kid has access to anything they need to be aware about it.
“Spotify was the only app Rachel allowed her daughter to use, and it was with an email her daughter didn’t have access to. They did everything right.
“Without a shadow of a doubt groomers will exploit anything and any platform. They are everywhere. They hide in plain sight left right and centre.”
How to stay safe online
- Have age-appropriate conversations around what is and is not healthy when using the internet
- Ensure your child is aware of a trusted adult they can talk to without any shame if they are worried about something online. This may not always be their parents first.
- Check in with your children on what apps they are using and how they are using them.
- Adjust parental controls online and check privacy settings on social media sites
- Keep webcams covered whenever they are not being used
She said given that software can given parental controls and content blocks, platforms like Spotify should have more measures in place to prevent this happening.
And she said it is important for children not only to understand what is dangerous online, but also to understand what healthy online use looks like so they can sense when something feels off.
Rachel's MP for Denton and Reddish Andrew Gwynne said: "What this young girl and her family have been through is absolutely horrific.
"I'm very grateful to my constituent for speaking out and raising awareness of this issue among other parents and guardians.
"I will be meeting with Spotify to seek a full and frank explanation of how this was allowed to happen, and what processes are in place to ensure it never happens again.
'WE WANT PEOPLE TO BE AWARE OF IT'
"This story reinforces the need for tougher legislation to tackle online harms, and groomers who manipulate digital platforms to commit their appalling crimes."
He since raised the matter in parliament, demanding an urgent question on the issue.
Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt told the Commons: "For both governments and parents I’m afraid this is all about continuing to be vigilant and having to adapt what we know to protect our households.
"But also the government is always going to have to be advancing and adapting the tools we have. I will raise this matter with the Secretary of State and ask her team get in touch with the hon. Gentleman’s office."
The paedophile network is part of a ‘secret porn community’ on the music streaming app.
Adults also can keep uploading nudes and porn images to the site despite it being against the rules.
One dad in the US told Vice how his daughter, eight, accidentally came across porn after typing in a full stop.
He said last year: “I don’t know what I expected, but it sure wasn’t hardcore porn.”
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A Spotify spokesman said: "Spotify takes the safety of minors on our platform extremely seriously, and we do not allow content that promotes, solicits, or facilitates child sexual abuse or exploitation.
“We have processes and technology in place that allow us to detect and remove any such exploitative material. In this case, we found the imagery in question, terminated the user, and removed the content within 24 hours."
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