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2 Nov, 2014

Child Protection NGO Unveils Toolkit to End Google’s “Forced Friending”

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Parents beware: A reckless “forced friending” policy facilitated by the tech-giant Google puts your family at risk.

Today, Stop Child Predators (SCP) – an organization dedicated to protecting children from sexual predators – has released a toolkit to help parents ensure their children’s safety. The kit includes a video showing how Google’s “forced friending” works and a flyer explaining best practices for staying safe on Google+.

The video is the latest effort in SCP’s decade long campaign to make society safe for children, and the first in a series of spotlights to educate parents about risks to their children on today’s online platforms. Given the depth of vulnerability on the Internet, parents must know about risks to their children that are even more pernicious than well-publicized incidents of identity theft.

Because Google+ allows one user to add another to his or her circles without a second user’s permission, SCP seeks to inform parents about this “forced friending” flaw that can lead to increased risks for their children online.

“As social networks become the venues where children associate with their friends and others, parents need to have tools in hand to make sure their children know how to stay safe online, as well as guarantee their own peace of mind with regards to their children’s activity,” explained Stacie Rumenap, President of Stop Child Predators. “Although ‘forced friending’ allows strangers to add anyone to their circles, parents are currently unaware that their children are vulnerable to predators who take advantage of this flaw. This allows predators to create online proximity that gives them a better chance to initiate a relationship in order to commit crimes.”

In order to explain these vulnerabilities, educate parents, and protect children, SCP released a video and pamphlet to give parents easy-to-follow steps on Google+ to keep their loved ones safe. SCP also encourages parents to contact Google and urge them to change its troublesome policies.

Without grassroots efforts to combat predatory behavior, dangerous online trends like “forced friending” will only continue.

“Studies show that teens, especially girls, are posting inappropriate content online, not realizing the long-term effects of such postings,” said Rumenap. “Google+ is not the only offender online, but the particularly notable flaws in its network means that all parents should be aware of the threats their children are exposed to when they use the service.”

The toolkit, video and background information can be found online by visiting here.

For more information about Stop Child Predators, please visit stopchildpredators.org.