If you live in a house with young teens then you might be familiar with a video sharing app called Musical.ly. The premise of the app is simple. The user picks out a song clip then makes a video of themselves lipsyncing and dancing along with the music before sharing it to the network. Like any app whose primary audience is kids, however, it’s only a matter of time before predators begin to lurk behind their own screen names.
Using the name “davidbanks1014,” police allege that a 39-year-old government employee named Richard Barnett used the app to obtain and transmit child pornography. The FBI later raided Barnett’s home, taking with them several electronic devices as well as firearms.
The investigation into davidbanks1014 began in May of 2017, when three Jacksonville, Florida elementary school students reported that someone using that screen name had contacted them through Musical.ly and began sending them sexually explicit messages. The user also told the girls that he was 13-years-old and stated that he knew where they lived and threatened to “kidnap, rape, and kill” them if they ever uttered a word about their conversations, the Chicago Tribune Reports.
That following month a second report would come in from the parents of a 9-year-old in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana. Investigators used this information to obtain a search warrant in order to have access to Musical.ly’s records.
It was through these records that the FBI was able to connect davidbanks1014 to Barnett.
In the complained filed against Barnett cited by the Chicago Tribune, Barnett allegedly took a picture of a semi-automatic handgun, along with a holster and a full magazine clip and sent it to a girl who would not send him sexually explicit material. He told the girl he would find out where she lived and shoot her, telling the girl, “ill wait till school starts and see what house you come out of,” the complaint states.
Parents are encouraged to monitor the privacy settings on their children’s social media apps in order to help prevent unwanted contact.