Children are being groomed through Spotify.
You read that right.
It is a streaming platform – not a messaging platform. Yet, the app has been used in a way that nobody foresaw – not police, not professionals, nor Spotify themselves – by predators to target children.
I was approached by a mother-of-two Rachel* who is very savvy about the dangers of the online world as she is a teacher. Her children are 8 & 11, and Mum has done everything right around online safety. Her young children are not yet using the more popular apps such as Snapchat and TikTok. Spotify access was also monitored whilst her 11 year old enjoyed age-appropriate podcasts and music.
However, Mum Rachel* (*a pseudonym that has been shared widely to protect her family’s identity) was alerted to an issue on the account when her daughter couldn’t access the app. This was followed by the discovery of several alarming emails spanning several months from a person that the daughter believed to be a 12yo boy, and another email from a man asking her for an explicit video of herself.
How Is The Grooming Happening?
The grooming is occurring via Spotify playlists – this allows people to create their own playlists to share music and podcasts. The playlists can be named anything you like, and this is the way that ‘messages’ can be conveyed. The playlist can be ‘renamed’ – thus enabling communication. Images can then be uploaded as ‘covers’ for the playlist which is how the explicit images of the 11yo child were being shared.
Rachel contacted the authorities as soon as she realised what had taken place. She’s also been able to have the explicit images of her daughter removed from the platform.
I’ve been within this professional field for over 25 years and it never ceases to amaze me the extent to which predators will go. Exploiting this app has brought to light once again just how cunning and deceptive these people can be.
What Can We Do?
This horrendous discovery also goes to show the importance of having conversations with our children and the young people in our lives so that they have an avenue to be able to speak about these situations. We need to make sure those we care for know about any potential risks and dangers, and know that they can come to us for support – their safety and mental health is an absolute priority.
I’m a huge advocate of staying safe online rather than avoiding all the good things that the online world offers us. As parents, carers, foster carers, youth workers, teachers and all other frontline professionals, we need to share this type of information far and wide and as often as possible to disrupt this crisis.
This breaking story has alerted professionals – me included – to the possibilities of grooming within the ever-popular Spotify app. I will be integrating the knowledge I have gained due to the generosity of ‘Rachel’ sharing her family’s story within my training packages – although right now, the most important thing to me is that the information gets out there as quickly as possible so that we can all take immediate action to keep our children and young people safe.