New Whisper app could lead to cyberbullying for students - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

New Whisper app could lead to cyberbullying for students

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HARTFORD, CT(WFSB) -

A new app called Whisper is stirring up a lot of controversy in schools and becoming the latest platform for cyberbullying.

But, even worse, predators may be using the app to send messages to kids.

Whisper, the latest must-have app among students, acts as a digital confessional and allows its users to blast out their innermost secrets anonymously.

The app uses GPS tracking to create a feed of comments from users in your area, but under the anonymous guise, the conversation can turn into a personal attack. 

"Hiding behind a screen is one thing, but when you do it anonymously, it takes it to a whole new level," said Scott Driscoll, of Internet Safety Concept.

Driscoll said the app has become a venue for bullying.

Some users target their classmates by writing cruel messages that ultimately get students buzzing and brings cyberbullying into the real world. 

"At midnight, someone can put up a text or an anonymous posting - something mean about a classmate - by the time school starts, everyone is talking about it," Driscoll said.

The creators of Whisper say in their terms that they have the right to remove any postings that are considered bullying and can even delete a user's account. However, this may not be curbing the behavior.

The private messaging feature is the center of parent's concerns. 

Driscoll, while posing as a young student, posted his own message and the response he got from users was disturbing. 

"Just yesterday, I had three pictures of gentlemen over the age of 21 - sending them to me thinking I was a 15-year-old girl," Driscoll said.

Driscoll said the men wanted to meet up and didn't seem to care that his persona was a minor.

The app does have a 17-year-old age restriction, but that hasn't seemed to stop students and predators know that children are actively using the app. 

Driscoll said many mobile devices have parental control settings. He said parents should use those settings to control what apps are downloaded on their child's phone.

Copyright 2014 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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