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Child victims of SNS-linked crimes hit record 889 in six months

JIJI

A record 889 people under 18 fell victim to sex crimes and other offenses perpetrated via social networking services from January to June, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

The number is 33 higher than the tally from July to December last year, marking the highest level since data on a half-year basis became available in 2008.

As a breeding ground for sex crimes, Twitter and other largely unregulated SNS sites overtook dating sites, which are bound by regulations including a minimum age rule of 18, analysts said.

Of the total, 348, or 40 percent, fell prey to indecent acts, 268 to child pornography and 225 to prostitution. Eight children, including some as young as 11, were raped, and 13 abducted. The youngest was a 9-year-old whose nude pictures were self-posted.

Of the total, 702 met with the offenders, including 303 who sought money, goods or sexual relationships, and 254 who posted messages seeking partners for compensated dating, specifying payment conditions in some cases.

In the meantime, SNS sites that had preventive measures in place, such as restrictions on exchanges with users 18 or above and monitoring of posted messages, saw victim levels drop.

According to the NPA, Twitter led all SNS sites with 180 victims, or 20 percent of the total, after seeing its tally jump by 39.

Gyaruru, a chat application for smartphones, was linked to 78 victims, the second-largest in the January-June tally, despite its tally falling by 29.

Line came in third with 63 victims, down by three, followed by the chat app Friends Talk, which was linked to 48 victims, down 16.

Twitter’s tally is on an uptrend. Its measures are limited mainly to removing content that violates its rules, including child pornography.

Since many SNS operators use self-regulation, “we will keep on urging them to take stricter measures”, an NPA official said.

Online dating sites, meanwhile, saw their victim tallies plunge to a total of 22 in the January-June half, down by 23.