herald

Thursday 16 August 2018

App used by paedophile to prey on children defends safety policy

Depraved Matthew Horan
Depraved Matthew Horan

An anonymous messaging app used by an Irish paedophile to exploit children as young as nine and distribute child porn videos says it has committed more than €8m to safety.

Kik was one of four social media platforms used by depraved Matthew Horan (26) to send sexually graphic images to at least 15 children both in Ireland and abroad.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that he used Kik to share child porn images and videos with unidentified users around the world, most of whom claimed to be young teenagers.

He would also send Kik messages to users, opening with the question: "Yo, wanna see some child porn?" before sending graphic images.

When asked what it was doing to combat sexual exploitation on its app, a spokesman for Kik - which had more than 300 million registered users in May 2016 - said the company took "online safety very seriously" and had committed $10m (€8m) to security measures.

Horror

"We are constantly assessing and improving our trust and safety measures," he said.

"There are two ways we do this. One is through technology and constant improvements to the product itself.

"We encourage users to report content that they believe violates the Kik terms of service and community standards.

"Users are also able to block other users they no longer wish to chat with or ignore chats from people that they don't know."

In the app's advice for parents, it states that people logging into their children's Kik account from a new device automatically clears the chat history.

Separately, a mum has told of her horror at finding out that a 40-year-old man was trying to make contact with her 13-year-old daughter on social media.

The woman, who identified herself as 'Karen', told Ryan Tubridy on his RTE radio show that she checked her daughter's phone while she was sleeping.

She looked at her Instagram account and the requests to follow her.

"I found one that looked a bit funny and on further investigation found that it was a man of 40 who was requesting to follow her," she said.

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