By Michelle Mandoreba. Published 27/05/2021: 10:30pm
Whilst we are said to be entering a period of metamodernity that closes the gap between the restrictions of communities and opens greater advances in lifestyle opportunities, it is also significant to note these changes to online communities are eradicating the blanket of privacy and security within traditional communities (Hampton, 2015). With adolescents growing up in an era that sees the transition to an urban-industrialisation period, their ability to adopt networked individualism puts them at high risk of becoming victims of online child predators. These individuals utilise popular social media networks such as Instagram and Facebook to lure adolescents with the promise of diverse and accepting communities, as well as opportunities to advance their talents and passions in favour of luxurious lifestyles. By predators providing this misleading information, many of these impressionable minors–desperately seeking variety in their environment–begin to neglect their online personal privacy, and thus become vulnerable to being sexually exploited and abused. Early exposure of social media to young people aids in creating multiple and discreet methods for these predators to manipulate their victims.
The internet has paved the way for social media and networking, particularly involving some of the biggest Social Networking Sites (SNS) such as Facebook and Instagram. The intended purpose of these and many other platforms, has been for growing online communication and interaction, building new or maintaining relationships and creating alternative forms of community (Datar & Mislan, 2010). According to these authors, Facebook, as of 2010 was ranked third in the overall web traffic of USA, reaching 104.2 million users every month. However, with such popularity amongst all ages, even beginning as young as eight years old, this level of scope comes with the consequences of opening pathways to cybercrimes, particularly by online child predators. Finding a user’s information on the internet has been over simplified with the aid of these SNS platforms which allow predators the opportunity to meet and seduce their victims online. Many of them take advantage of these children’s need to explore their own sense of community outside of their traditional ones. Although SNS are good for maintaining and building relationships, the amount of personal data that users freely give to these sites imposes a major threat to children who aren’t aware of the threat of online predators (Datar & Mislan, 2010). This is particularly present by the actions of these predators in forming mythical online communities outside of adolescents’ isolated homes, as well as creating false agent profiles to lure entertainment industry driven youth. It is through this internet solicitation of youth by sexual predators, in which it evident that social media platforms have drawn away the safety of traditional communities, allowing greater accessibility for predators to target and manipulate young and impressionable children online
Isolated, Traditional Communities
With the advancement of technology, many communities are now available online whereby children are able to find support from people across the world. However, this connectivity and the tendency of children to actively practise networked individualism, has resulted in the exploitation of minors whereby online predators target their vulnerability and desperate need for a sense of community. With rural areas, such as the Western parts of Canada, Hampton (2015) defines community as the interaction that occurs within the home and is able to travel the short distance between other households. As Hampton and Wellman (2018) suggest, they work in even smaller “imagined communities” (p. 644) whereby kin-ship and support is limited to family. Many of these families are hesitant to follow the mobility narrative that sees a transition from rural to urban lifestyles (Hampton, 2015). This hesitation develops with the fear of losing their traditional social bonds, transgenerational contact, methods of face-to-face communication, and the tendency of individuals to break away from their relationships at home. With the inability to conform to this urban-industrialism that would likely disrupt their system of community, they are reluctant to adopt technology that provides pervasive awareness and persistent contact. However, this social isolation has seen negative consequences sprouting in relation to children growing up in a digital age. With lack of diverse community occurring at home, adolescents begin to seek other forms of connection outside of their third places (Hampton & Wellman, 2018). When the children belonging to these communities gain access to social media and networks, often by meeting with individuals in the city, it is common for in-person predators to provide these minors with cell phones and access to their Facebook and Instagram groups and messages. This is where the grooming processes begin (Louie, 2017).
The Manipulation Toward ‘Online Communities’
From this stage and beyond, the predators fluctuate from in-person and online relationships, initially using social media as a tool for enticement whilst the children are still living in their rural homes. They begin to prey on and groom these naïve children, taking advantage of their needs of food, shelter, exploration and freedom. Louie (2017) expresses how the predators lure them to join their circle of online communities where life is promised to be prosperous and abundant, there are claims of forming friendships, making money and having the ability to travel outside of their homes. Once the online interactions convince them to join their physical communities often in the city, evidence of online communication is eradicated and these children begin to be sexually exploited and exposed to emotional and physical abuse and trauma (Louie, 2017). This easy accessibility of predators to minors living in rural areas suggests that the scope of online communities has begun to surpass that of close-knit traditional communities. As a result, there will likely be a decline in the protection and privacy of youth who are beginning to withdraw from their physical communities in favour of online communities. With this concept of traditional communities diminishing as numerous online communities are developed, Hampton and Wellman (2018) comment that there is an “idealisation of other forms of community” (p. 644) outside of communities within their geographical locations. The authors convey that although this shift out of echo chambers could possesses the opportunity for these youths to escape the confinement of their rural lives, romanticised ideas of other lifestyles on social media means they are vulnerable to accepting offers of change from anyone. More often than not, these “opportunities” are predominantly provided by child predators seeking to manipulate these minors for immoral intentions.
Misleading Lifestyle Opportunities
Furthermore, in relation to misleading opportunities being provided to these victims, Guo (2008) conveys, a large number of youth utilise social media as means to gain access to extracurricular opportunities for ‘Hollywood’ idealised ways of life. However, many of them fall victim to the manipulation of online predators targeting those thriving to be a part of the entertainment industry. The introduction to technology has transformed the ways in which people interact with one another, the way they gain information and support, and the way they connect with those in higher societal roles (Hampton & Wellman, 2018). With technologies that allow for communication through a broader spectrum, specifically digital and social media, the ability to form discreet social relations has heightened. This anonymity and ability to erase evidence of communication with minors is just one of the ways in which online predators abuse the internet to take advantage of these children (Louie, 2017). In addition, a number of social media influencers such as makeup artist, James Charles (25.1 million Instagram followers), Vlogger, Amanda Cerny (24.9 million Instagram followers), and model, Kendall Jenner (132 million Instagram followers), play a significant role in advocating opportunities in the entertainment industry for adolescents (Guo, 2008). By frequently posting of their luxurious lifestyles, creating prize competitions and suggesting they once started their careers with little influence, these social media influencers often subconsciously provide adolescents with the ideas of attainable pathways such as their own. They create deceiving impressions of belonging to communities where people share and practise the same interests, as well as having luxurious opportunities in wealth, fame and connections. With this idealisation of a media influenced lifestyle, many of these adolescents feel as though in order to have these networks, they must branch outside of their traditional communities and towards social media whereby scouting agents are said to be on the lookout (Hampton & Wellman, 2018). With access and communication on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, these children easily exhibit network individualism by seeking their sense of belonging and community beyond their geographical access, however, simultaneously ignoring their online privacy.
However, this adolescent exposure online comes with the consequence of being potential victims to exploitation by online predators with false identities (Hampton & Wellman, 2018). With the misleading advertisement of easy access into these media occupations by influencers, minors are often manipulated into believing they have been awarded an opportunity by talent agents. Although a large cohort of these pages “catfish” for the sole purpose of extorting money, an even larger number of these accounts belong to paedophiles. As noted by Guo (2008), these individuals work to “solicit sexual activities from one out five online youths” (p. 625). They often target those with “low self-esteem” (Guo, 2008, p, 626) or “desperately” seeking opportunities where their physical communities may not have. In a case conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (2015), a 23-year-old man from California was arrested and sentenced to 29 years in federal prison with charges of child pornography and sexual enticement towards a minor. Kirby had created multiple false Facebook profiles where he contacted hundreds of individual minors claiming to be an agent for modelling companies. He was then arrested in May 2014 to six online criminal charges involving young girls ages 10 to 15 years old. Although there are several valid modelling companies and talent agencies who utilise social media platforms to network talent, the ability for any individual to create false identities victimises children on social media whilst simultaneously creating a negative representation of the entertainment industry (Louie, 2017). Despite hundreds of cases such as these being widely broadcasted, many of these youths continue to discreetly utilise social media to network and attempt to find these opportunities, despite the risks associated with this use of social media. Therefore, it is evident that vast ability of online networking and false communities poses a threat to the wellbeing of youth online.
Social media networks are tools within society that are known to assist the formation of relationships, maintaining contact despite geographical location, and creating opportunities for individuals to find communities where they may not exist in person. Although many these communities are created to find like-minded people all over the world, a significant amount are misleading and draw the attention away from the security within traditional communities. This is significantly represented by online predators who work to take advantage of the naivety, passions and lack of privacy of young children, for their own inappropriate sexual intentions. Using social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram, is how they lure adolescents out of the of their familiar environments to join these online communities with false promises of more accepting lifestyles and lavish futures. Although this is not a direct depiction of the nature of social media’s communities, these behaviours do leave negative representations that prohibits opportunities of many of these communities to grow, as well as frequently endangering the wellbeing of many children active on social media.
Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2015). Sexual Predator Sentenced to 29 Years. https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/sexual-predator-sentenced-to-29-years
Guo, R. M. (2008). Stranger Danger and the Online Social Network. Berkeley Technology Law Journal, 23(1), 617-644. https://www-jstor-org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/stable/24118329?seq=9#metadata_info_tab_contents
Hampton, K. N., & Wellman, B. (2018). Lost and Saved . . . Again: The Moral Panic about the Loss of Community Takes Hold of Social Media. Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews, 47(6), 643–651. https://doi.org/10.1177/0094306118805415
Hampton, K. N. (2015). Persistent and Pervasive Community. American Behavioral Scientist, 60(1), 101–124. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764215601714
Louie, D. W. (2017). Social Media and the Sexual Exploitation of Indigenous Girls. Girlhood Studies, 10(2). https://doi.org/10.3167/ghs.2017.100208
27 thoughts on “Online Predators Targeting Young and Impressionable Youth on Social Media.”
Thank you so much for writing a conference paper regarding online predators because I do believe that it’s an extremely alarming issue that requires more awareness.
When you mentioned that online interactions often convince kids to join physical communities leading them to get sexually exploited and exposed to emotional/physical abuse; it instantly made me think of parents nowadays installing a “parent spy” software on their children’s gadgets to avoid the issue from escalating. I’d like to know your opinion on this and if you think “spying” on your own kids is ethical? If yes, to what extent can it be considered “good parenting” and not crossing boundaries?
I enjoyed reading your “Misleading Lifestyle Opportunities“, as we all know everything shown on social media is extremely fabricated and made to seem euphoric as people can pick which parts of their lives they want to be shown. Speaking on this matter, I’d like to hear your own personal opinion. Is it fair for only 13+ aged and above to be allowed to have access to mobile phones? Would it be more beneficial or detrimental?
Well done on this paper! It was a very interesting read, you raise many great points regarding negative exposure that effects todays youth. While I think policies regarding certain sites to control exposure are a great idea to minimize the content youth are exposed to even when sometimes searching for harmless content is a great idea, another potential precaution would be to put a heavy emphasis on educating todays youth at a primary and secondary level of the dangers they may face online. Educational systems could make it a mandatory part of schooling so that todays youth are more prepared for experiences they may encounter in todays social media driven society. Do you agree or have any comments on this?
Your paper brings up many key points in the online predators issue in our social media communities. Interestingly the recent glorification of “Only Fans” can also aid the influencing of young people to share themselves online, through digital patronage becoming a popular side hustle for many famous social media influencers this can also entice impressionable young adults to participate in sex work for monetary gain. Do you think the the popularity of social media influencers participating in sex work will outshine the issue of youth sharing their private information and photos, due to the predators becoming paying customers through digital patronage. In turn flipping the model of youth exploiting themselves in order to have financial gains to emulate the lifestyles of their favourite influencers (The California Aggie, 2021).
The California Aggie. (2021). The rise of OnlyFans may come at the expense of core content creators. Retrieved from https://theaggie.org/2021/01/13/the-rise-of-onlyfans-may-come-at-the-expense-of-core-content-creators/
Thank you for an interesting read.
I am now in my mid-twenties and related to this very well. Watching my young cousin navigate social media now, it has become more apparent that teenagers trust easily and share way too much personal information online and being unaware of their digital footprint online. As you mentioned it has made it easier for predators to lure teenagers from all different backgrounds with all the promises to fulfill their dreams of a better life. I really liked how you used the modelling agency throughout as an example as all teenagers want to become famous and live a life full of money thanks to influencers and Hollywood starts.
Have you thought of how pressures of today’s society have influenced teenagers to want to post sexual content without any thought to fit in with society? Do you think this has also allowed predators to easily obtain this type of content black mail teenagers through easy manipulation?
In regards to your question, thats a very good point of discussion you’ve brought up. A lot of teenagers do feel the need to post sexual content in the hopes of gaining more attraction and a greater following. Even with the ability to put accounts on private, the minute anything has been uploaded to the internet, it only takes one person for those private images to begin circulating. It’s very easy to find the origin of photos, and this is where a lot of these minors become vulnerable to predators. I find that a huge part is also involved in the way these children try to hide their profiles from their parents because they know they are uploading content that wouldn’t be approved of. If a predator gains access to these images, blackmail is so easy and the minute a child begins to send private images directly to their abuser, they have already become victimised. I believe it’s not only important for parents to monitor who their children interact with, but also the content they are posting on social media. You can never know who is lurking.
This was a very interesting and eye-opening read! I think this isn’t spoken about enough and it is definitely one of the more dangerous impacts social media platforms have on the younger users.
I found the examples of cat-fishing to be very interesting and I’ve seen a lot of YouTubers make videos on catfishing other people as a sort of ‘prank’ but after reading your paper, I think these videos send out the wrong impression to younger kids watching as they may feel like it’s alright to do the same but this could affect people in a negative way.
As you said, social media does create opportunities for children to be the victims of sexual abuse online. I think mainly the internet allows for anonymity and therefore, people think its okay to put of comments that are mean as there’s no way of finding out who posted what behind a computer screen – giving them more power to do what they want
Teenagers these days are desperately seeking attention to stay popular and cool and like you mentioned they neglect their online privacy thus compromising on their safety online. Having come out of my teens this year, I relate to this very well. There is so much peer pressure in terms of the number of likes or views one gets for their posts, or even the number of friends or followers they have, they ignore online safety rules thus becoming vulnerable to being exploited or abused by manipulative predators. Getting inspired by ‘Hollywood idealized’ ways of life you mentioned is another lucrative social media network where youth can fall prey to predators easily. Though social media communities have brought about a lot of good to society in general, it comes with its own set of challenges.
Thanks for an interesting and relatable read.
I can relate with your takeaways from the paper although I consider a further explantation of what catalyses them to use online media for popularity and how this is detrimental to them. From my own experience social media popularity was enticing although it wasn’t the views of strangers the was craved rather the interaction with the people I knew and how their opinions affected my popularity in a physical setting such as high school. Do you believe that through social media innovation that the boundaries of school life and online life have combined, now creating an international potential viewership platform that could affect the self-esteem and likability of teenagers in modern society?
You have brought up a very interesting topic and something that we hear mainly in movies/dramas than on news.
Its scary to know that social media is know that it can be used as as an accessory to a crime such as online catfishing. Recently i listened to a podcast series called Hunting Warhead where the journalists and police track down online predators such as pedophiles whos used social media to lure children. If you get a chance do listen to it.
I liked how you brought up celebrities who do have influence with adolescents to use social media as a platform to adverse themselves and find their online identity.
I wonder if the social medias do have a tool or a system that can alert if there anyone who uses this platform with bad intention. You never know something that we may see in the future.
Absolutely, I have no doubt that by the next five years, there will be some sort of online filters that can scope out negative behaviour. The podcast you’ve suggested sounds extremely interesting. I’ve seen a show or youtube video like that where they lure predators into the homes of children just to catch them. It’s really terrifying how many people out there take advantage of such young people. Thanks so much for the feedback.
Thanks for writing this topic, it is really intersting and thought-provoking to read your paper and discuss with you!
I totally agree with you on the points that social media will expose the younger generation to the threats of cybercrime in the aspects of sexual and monetary intentions. Since the younger generation nowadays are vulnerable as the freedom of speech on social media allows them to discuss or to be discussed, which it has led to the results of them desperately needing to be recognized by the communities that are formed online.
My opinion that was provoked by you paper is that social media platforms are making changes to reduce the threats, such as the introduction of YouTube Kids, which can limit the content being accessed by children, and limit the chances to be targeted by criminals.
Do you think that all social media (Instagram, TikTok, Twitter…) should have more limitation regarding the age limit to reduce the exposure to criminal?
I talked about how social media helps in upholding civil rights and equality, feel free to discuss with me! It would be interesting to know your point of view on my paper. Thanks again for writing this topic!
Here’s the link of my paper:
That is a really good point that I never considered. You’re absolutely right about platforms having greater limitations than they did even back when I was in primary school. YouTube kids is a great example of this. I do absolutely think more platforms should adopt this technique to better protect children. But realistically speaking, kids are a lot more technologically advanced than we give them credit for, especially ones who are in their pre-teen years. I know if I was 11 or 12, and having a filter on what content I can view, I would probably create another account with an older age so I could get access to whatever I wanted. I suppose thats also one of the ways kids expose themselves to the dangers of the internet without really realising it. But all in all, I totally agree with you, if it can even help to protect a 1 in 10,000 children, then thats an improvement from nothing. Thank you for the feedback, really got me thinking. I will definitely check out your paper, and hopefully we can get a good discussion going.
This was my thoughts exactly. For example for Twitch.tv there are limitations on age, as in you have to be 13 or older to access the site but the amount of kids who have signed up using a false age is incredibly. While most streamers will remove kids doing this there are still many out there who just circumvent this by just not allowing people in their chat to talk about ages etc.. therefore technically not violating any rules of Twitch.
This is the same on Facebook as well as I have seen many under 14 accounts who list their age as 99 but Facebook has no filter for this last I checked.
This was a great paper and I really enjoyed your thoughts and great examples throughout your paper. This is not an easy topic to bring up and like Amanda’s comment above. It is very thought-provoking. I thought I would just add onto some of the comments from aboove and not be to repetitive.
Because of the advancements of technology and the variety of communities as well as hidden communities and citizens who can easily manipulate and create false identities, how do you feel about the social responsibilities within social media platforms. Should there be more policy and control and if you are caught what are the consequences.
In my paper, I looks at some of these issues of social media and also It examines the relationships between citizens and the complexities of online communities and how citizens are changing media practices and how technology affordances within social media has further implications of freedom of speech
Thanks for the review and very good question. I do absolutely believe Social media platforms have a huge responsibility to filter out as much unwanted attention to these children as possible. With the billions of dollars they invest and make from user engagement, a significant sum of that should go towards greater security measures and identity scans to ensure people are who they say they are online. However, it is also notable to realise that much of these technologies just haven’t been made yet, and It’s of course difficult to verify every individual’s identity whilst also growing revenue, engagement and use. I think a big part of it, which I only briefly mentioned, is how parents monitor their children’s activity. I’ve noticed that in schools, many children are educated about the risks associated with social media use, but with some children so young and not fully understand the scope, they just aren’t able to grasp what is taught. More education to the parents as well might help to limit these children’s exposure to the cyber crimes. When parents can have these open conversations with their children about what goes on online, these kids may be more inclined to seek help about things going on that they may be unsure of.
Thanks so much Nakia, this one really got me thinking.
I absolutely agree about children and how parents monitor the risks associated with social media. I think more education within parents about this would be so beneficial. Digital world is moving so rapidly, and parents are conflicted to how manage the usage and how do we monitor it all. I am a parent, and my little boy is so quick to learn about the digital world. He is learning and understanding to speak to my computer and phone. He has been watching me do this and kids are very quick to learn. So, with cyber security and the next phase of AI. I wonder how this will affect kids and parents yet again. We will be having conversations in general, and our phone’s will pick up key words and then we go to open a web browser and it will have everything already uploaded. This will cause even more concern for the future. Digital is going faster and more intelligent, and as a parent its very hard to keep up with what is right and best for your child meanwhile, they are using technology even more. Covid has bought all this technology at a faster rate and we have had a glimpse of the future. I think that the digital world and if compared to television, this is the black and white of TV.
This was a really interesting input, and I loved that you went deeper and looked into the future of AI, which I had never actually considered whilst researching my topic. It was absolutely great to have the perspective of a mother with a young child. It really helped me to understand the concerns many parents may feel as their children are growing up in such a rapid digital world. Thanks again.
This paper was very eye-opening as to what goes on in the world of social media. It is alarming how most children today have unwanted exposure to sexual or violent content online even when searching for apparently harmless content. I believe it is the duty of parents to educate their children on such matters as social media predators, but the social media giants also have a responsibility to protect children as far as possible.
In my paper I discuss freedom of speech on social media. Please feel free to read and comment.
Here is the link:
You’re absolutely right. It’s so easy to come across inappropriate content on the internet from searching even the simplest of topics. Parents play a huge role in monitoring this but yeah, witch the money invested into their platforms, these social media giants should spend a lot more time protecting these children. It happens way more frequently than most of us could even grasp. Thanks for the feedback Luc.
This is a really thought provoking paper, and comes at quite a pertinent time – with the likes of Grace Tame steering communication about grooming practices into the open.
I’ve not read about predators luring young people away from home and offering shelter etc. Are these children from lower socio-economic backgrounds etc? Or perhaps isolated religious communities? Is this something that’s prevalent in Australia or other countries like America?
Keeping children safe online is such a huge task and one that I know there are already resources going towards. Did you find any articles about the criminalisation of these practices online, and what federal organisations are doing to stem the tide of these practices?
Thanks for the review, and awesome questions of discussion. In regard to your first question, I actually found it difficult to find data in Australia. What I did pick up on was the isolated Indigenous communities of Western Canada. I do not think I included this in my paper, but many of these communities are of lower socio-economic groups, and so offerings of shelter, food, family and escape is greatly idealised for these children. Many of them have been left to fend for themselves from broken or ill families, and so they are willing to accept offers such as this. It’s also good to note that some of these predators are in fact their boyfriends, distant relatives and friends. So that element of trust is there when they agree to join their communities. As for your other questions, I’m still looking into it, there seems to not be too much discussion about a topic so prevalent in our digitalised world. But I’m sure I’ll come across something. Thanks so much.
Your paper was quite interesting, and you chose a topic that isn’t commonly talked about as much. Your research seemed on point; personally, I only felt a slight disconnect between the idea of “fake lifestyle opportunities” and online predators, as they seem to be discrete topics. But overall, was happy to see you shine a light on how predators take advantage of digital communication technologies and their potential for open communication. As I talk about how this open communication has the potential for inclusive, open and diverse communities to be formed, your article has given an underside, a huge potentially dangerous aspect of the same technology. Moving forward, I think if we, as a society, learn to harness these technologies and create a balance, we could all benefit from the good and mitigate the bad.
I do understand what you mean about be discussing such broad topics within the one essay. However, within research, it was really difficult to find examples, evidence and just the overall discussion of online predators. It seems as though despite how fearful the subject is, it’s not discussed nearly enough, and theres a limitation of how much exposure there is to the public. I suppose it’s the media’s way of still maintaining the attention of viewers, as well as growing user population. It’s a power hungry world which only works to put these young people in danger.
I agree with you on the overarching theme of this paper – social media does create a big opportunity for children to be the victims of sexual abuse online. As mentioned in my paper, where I wrote about the negative effects of social media on community building and social connection, this is just another issue that social networking sites present.
I found the information about cat-fishing very interesting, as it has always been something that I have found extremely relevant in the age of social media, as well as my personal interest in the series that used to be on TV.
Thanks for an interesting and relevant read.
I was very pleased to see your paper, as children’s safety online is one of my main topics of interest, and I also wrote my paper about the implications of Hampton’s “period of metamodernity” that you mention, albeit with a different focus.
While you do make some very good points, I think it is important to remember that children are still far, far more likely to be a victim of abuse in their own home, by a perpetrator known to them, than by a stranger online or offline (danah boyd’s “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” has a great chapter on this). Focus on the relatively much smaller issue of “stranger danger” removes the focus from where it should be, on the very real and persistent problem of child abuse within the home and local community.
That said, I think we are in agreement that issues of online predators could be mitigated by more education about how to protect privacy and critically evaluate what they see and read for children using the Internet. Where do you think the responsibility for this education lies? It’s such a massive issue (which has an impact on many facets of children’s online lives) that no one seems to be doing anything much about.
Also – I see that you mentioned James Charles, and based on the time period we were writing these I think you may have just finished it before the recent abuse controversy around him arose. I’m interested on your thoughts about this? I feel like, while there is no excuse for what he did, it certainly complicates issues when you think about the fact that he grew up as a public figure online and, as he said in his apology video, didn’t learn appropriate boundaries – again, the issue of education comes up. I’d love to know what you would have included about this issue if the timing hadn’t been just a little off.
Thanks again for a thought-provoking read.
Given our mutual interest in the work of Hampton and Wellman around the new persistent pervasive community, I would really value your thoughts on my own paper, too: https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2021/2021/04/26/as-a-hyperlocal-form-of-social-media-nextdoor-helps-neighbours-connect-but-not-always-for-the-better/
I must admit, I don’t personally follow the lifestyles of many of these influencers because I often don’t agree or just don’t share an interest with the content they publish. The brief mention of James Charles was predominantly related to his high exposure on the internet, and the way he interacts with his followers who many of them, are minors. This is mainly related to his career pathway as a makeup artist. As for his personal declarations and confessions of his past, I did choose not to input much of that because it wasn’t pertinent to this particular topic, and a lot of it didn’t include any evidence I could publish at the time.
But you’ve really opened my eyes to do my own research now. I am interested to see the controversy surrounding his alleged grooming of a minor. I wonder if these allegations are true, would society would consider him a predator in the same way they would a ‘normal’ person who isn’t surrounded in fame? Or perhaps does that title get manipulated because he has the wealth and connections to make mitigate the consequences. Thanks for the feedback Amanda 🙂