Sloane Ryan is a 37-year-old woman who runs the Special Projects Team at Bark, a child-safety tech company selling a $9-a-month software that monitors text messages for bullying, threats of violence, depression, and sexual predators. “In 2018 alone, Bark alerted the FBI to 99 child predators. In 2019? That number is more than 300 — and counting.”
Bark had wanted a way to depict the problem to the public without using actual conversations — so Ryan began posing as an underage minor on Instagram.
Over the past nine months, I’ve been 15-year-old Libby and 16-year-old Kait and 14-year-old Ava. I’ve been a studious sophomore contemplating bangs and a lacrosse player being raised by her aunt and an excitable junior eager for prom….
At the beginning of the week, on the very first night as [11-year-old] “Bailey” two new messages came in within 52 seconds of publishing a photo. We sat mouths agape as the numbers pinged up on the screen — 2, 3, 7, 15 messages from adult men over the course of two hours. Half of them could be charged with transfer of obscene content to a minor. That night, I had taken a breather and sat with my head in my hands.
The second half of the article includes examples of particularly graphic conversations with what the perpetrators think are an 11-year-old girl instead of the 37-year-old woman who’s investigating them. “I exit the conversation with @ XXXastrolifer to see another nine requests pending… Over the course of one week, over 52 men reached out to an 11-year-old girl.”