This story of child grooming on Twitter that led to kidnapping should scare the living daylights out of every parent, cop, and tech employee
· Apr 29, 2023 ·

The targeted online grooming of vulnerable young children is so sophisticated and relentless that a sicko can even pull it off when the parents, the police and the social media company all know about it:

[F]or more than two months last year ... [a Utah] boy was being sexually groomed by an adult who was 13 years older and hundreds of miles away. It started in private messages then moved into public view on Twitter.

It ended in a horror story. The boy's father went to check on him one night and found him missing, his window open, the bedroom freezing. The boy was allegedly abducted by the man accused of grooming him, driven across state lines, and, prosecutors said, repeatedly sexually assaulted.

Brutal, shocking, horrific stuff. What's even more so is that the boy's parents had been well aware of the threat this pervert posed.

The parents in November had "reported the situation to local police" and "surrendered the boy's iPhone after discovering explicit text messages between the boy and a man[.]"

The police got around to serving Twitter with a warrant "to learn more information about the man police believe was grooming the teen." However, they misspelled the suspect's username. They eventually got around to giving the social media company the correct username "several weeks later," but Twitter reportedly "did not immediately respond."

The family had taken away their son's cell phone, but he eventually found another "discarded" phone in the house and used it to communicate with the pervert. Once that phone was taken away, the boy used "a Meta Quest virtual reality headset" to continue the increasingly explicit and sexual conversations.

Finally, the boy's father one night discovered the boy's room empty, "his passport and piggy bank" missing. He was eventually located about 600 miles away, and his abuser was arrested.

It's kind of hard to believe the sequence of events played out this way:

  • The parents were aware that their son was being targeted by a dangerous psychopath. And yet apparently they left him alone in an unsecured, apparently ground-floor room. They also failed to take more obvious approaches to securing the child's safety, such as shutting down all Wi-Fi in the house.
  • Police knew about the threat, bungled the warrant, and took weeks to follow up on it.
  • Twitter was aware that law enforcement was seeking information about a child's possibly being targeted for sexual abuse, and they allegedly dragged their feet almost heavily as police.

How do so many people get such an important thing so critically wrong?

Perhaps most astonishingly, following the resolution of this horrible crisis:

[The boy now] has a phone — but it's not connected to the internet and can't download social media applications.

They gave him another phone???

Now that Elon Musk has bought Twitter and implemented a zero tolerance policy on pedophilia and child porn, we can hope threats involving groomers will be taken seriously.

(The previous regime at Twitter was notorious for ignoring such things.)

Our society is laser-focused on "tolerance" right now. Maybe we should be focusing on making sure kids are protected.

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