Tuesday February 16, 2016

Anonymous Kik app scrutinized after murder of Nicole Lovell

What are the ethical obligations of social media apps?

What are the ethical obligations of social media apps? (Summer Skyes 11/Flickr cc)

Listen 19:07

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Virginia teen Nicole Lovell went missing on Jan. 27, 2016. Police say she was stabbed.

Two Virginia Tech students, David Eisenhauer and Natalie Keepers, have been charged with the premeditated kidnapping and killing of the 13-year-old girl. 

Slain Virginia Teen

In this 2015 photo provided by Tammy Weeks, her daughter, Nicole Lovell, flashes a peace sign in Blacksburg, Va. The 13-year-old girl was found dead across the state line in Surry County, N.C. Two Virginia Tech students are charged in the case. (The Associated Press)

It is believed that an anonymous messenger app called Kik was used to establish a relationship and then lure her to her death.

"She was able, at 13-years-old, to go and set up profiles on Facebook that we had no idea about. And a minor should not be able to do that. We have no idea who they're talking to." - David Lovell, Nicole's father

Nicole Lovell's neighbour, Stacey Snider, said her daughters gave police a lead that led to the arrest of David Eisenhauer, showing police text messages and pictures off of Kik.

Experts in cyber crimes have serious concerns about the threats that anonymous messaging apps can pose to children and teens. But it's not just an issue of online safety, it also raises questions about business ethics.

Guests in this segment:

  • Moriah Balingit, The Washington Post reporter
  • Marc Goodman, futurist in residence for the FBI, senior adviser to Interpol and author of Future Crimes
  • Chris MacDonald, professor of ethics at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University and Toronto-based ethics consultant.
     

Do you think parents should be more active in monitoring the apps their kids use, or is it up to the manufacturers to make sure children can't be duped?

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This segment was produced by The Current's Ines Colabrese, Lara O'Brien and Karen Chen.