New social media app alarms parents
Meetme.com alarms parents of teens
Last Updated: 255 days ago
INDIANAPOLIS - A new social media app is alarming parents of teens who frequent the website.
MeetMe.com has become one of the top 20 most visited websites in the country.
The app operates much like Facebook and MySpace with one exception. When users log on, it lists people who are online and uses GPS to show their locations.
According to the website, you have to be 13 years old to sign up.
However, a MeetMe.com representative said that the website has had difficulty in the past verifying the age of some of its users and that there is the possibility of abuse.
Daniel Spagnoletti was made aware of the possibility when he panicked after coming home to find his 15-year-old daughter missing.
“There’s no bigger fear, period,” Spagnoletti said.
His panic turned into terror when he grabbed the iPad sitting on her bed.
“(It was) a detailed, very descriptive conversation on the computer,” Spagnoletti said. “It was very graphic.”
That’s exactly what happened in the case involving Spagnoletti’s daughter and her friend.
The teens had logged on with a profile that said they were over 18. They were contacted by a 20-year-old man who asked them if they wanted to hang out, police records show.
His daughter Shelbi and her girlfriend had written a string of messages to an adult man, who had asked to have sex with the girls.
"There are probably 100 kids on there, and there’s only one thing on their mind,” Spagnoletti said.
The site contains profile after profile of people in provocative clothing and poses. However, a MeetMe representative said the site’s main purpose is not for dating.
After Shelbi and her friend disclosed their real age, police records showed the man still agreed to meet.
The man picked up the teens and took them to an apartment complex.
Shelbi said the man and the teens did not have sex and said they only went swimming before her father and several police officers arrived at the complex.
Police detectives have served a search warrant in the investigation and have turned over the case to the county attorney’s office.
Spagnoletti said he is pushing for prosecution and also wants to warn parents.
“You’ve got to constantly tell them about the horrors that are out there,” he said.
The man could face charges of luring a minor for sexual exploitation, which is a felony, officials said.
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