Children’s Rights NGO exposes dangers of online predators with life-sized emojis | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

Philippines-based Children’s rights organisation Bahay Tuluyan has released a short film that aims to urge parents to be familiar with the hidden meaning behind certain emojis to keep their children safe from online predators.

The film was done in collaboration with agency TBWA\ Santiago Mangada Puno and features life-sized emojis who befriend children during their vulnerable moments to educate parents on the insidious use of emojis.

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Titled ‘Emoji Friends’, the film begins with a student who locks himself in a bathroom stall after being bullied and how he finds comfort in an eggplant emoji mascot.

In another scene, a peach emoji can be seen taking videos of a young girl in a pool which showcases how a seemingly innocent livestream can serve as an avenue for perpetrators to befriend unsuspecting children, according to a statement by the company.

The video is currently age-restricted and can only be viewed on YouTube. 

“Every day, around 500,000 predators try to befriend kids online via social media and gaming sites,” said Catherine Scerri, executive director at Bahay Tuluyan.

“They pretend to be kids and use emojis as a way to get close our children and abuse them; get images of their private parts or even get them to perform sexual acts. This is why we came up with this campaign,” Scerri explained.

The film ends with an explanation below selected emojis to highlight how these icons have been given different meanings. For example, the eggplant emoji is now used to refer to the male genitalia while the peach is now usually used to refer to one’s buttocks.

“We want parents to be aware of this very real danger so that they may take necessary actions to prevent or properly respond to it,” added Scerri.

While parents play an important role in protecting their children from misinformation, harassment, or other dangers of the internet, the advertising industry should step up their efforts to protect children as well.

According to the latest report by IAS titled “The Rise of Responsible Media”, nearly 83% of parents say social media platforms can be detrimental without proper controls in place. Around 77% of parents also say that publishers should be concerned about the well-being of their audience, while 72% of parents also hold brands accountable saying that they have a moral imperative to advertise responsibly.

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