Welcome!

News Feed Item

MeetMe.com enables sexual predators and child stalkers, San Francisco's City Attorney's lawsuit contends

Social network's unlawful publication of minors' profiles, photos and geolocation data alleged to victimize children as young as 13 years of age--and younger

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera today filed suit against MeetMe, a popular social networking platform that facilitates interactions among strangers, over inadequate privacy protections and unlawful publication of minors' profiles, photos, and location data, which can enable sexual predators and stalkers to target children as young as 13 years of age. 

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20131216/SF34284LOGO)

The civil complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court this morning alleges that the New Hope, Pa.-based MeetMe, Inc. is violating California's Unfair Competition Law by relying on legally invalid consent from minors between the ages of 13 and 17 to collect and improperly distribute their real-time geolocation and personal user information.  Approximately 25 percent of MeetMe.com's user base is under the age of 18, according to social media marketing statistics cited in Herrera's complaint.  The lawsuit additionally alleges that MeetMe fails to adequately disclose to users how their personal data is distributed.  

"MeetMe has become a tool of choice for sexual predators to target underage victims, and the company's irresponsible privacy policies and practices are to blame for it," said Herrera.  "MeetMe improperly collects personal information from young teens—including their photos and real-time locations.  It then distributes that information in ways that expose children to very serious safety risks.  Sadly, these risks aren't hypothetical.  Dozens of children nationwide have already been victimized by predators who used MeetMe to coerce minors into meeting.  Under California law, MeetMe's reckless business practices are illegal, and we're asking a court to put an end to them."

MeetMe has been a key factor in numerous crimes involving sexual assault and illicit sex with minors in California, according to news reports documented in Herrera's complaint.  In Aug. 2013, a 29-year-old Citrus Heights, Calif. man was charged with multiple counts of sexual acts with a minor and communicating with minors for unlawful purposes.  Police investigators found that MeetMe was among the apps the perpetrator used to send sexually-explicit photos and text messages to underage girls in order to begin a "sexting" relationship that ultimately progressed to sexual contact.  A Fresno, Calif. man was arrested in Oct. 2013 on suspicion of sexually assaulting a minor that he met using MeetMe, according to news reports, and in July 2013 a 21-year-old Fair Oaks, Calif. man was criminally charged after posing as a 16-year-old boy to have sex with two girls—aged 12 and 15—whom he met using MeetMe. 

Dozens of minors nationwide have been similarly victimized in sex crimes by predators who relied on MeetMe to target their underage victims, according to reports cited in the complaint.  In June 2013, a Tewksbury, Mass. man was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to more than 50 charges, including rape of a child by force, indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.  The man used multiple aliases on MeetMe to trick teenage girls into sending him nude images.  He then threatened to publish the photos in order to blackmail victims into having sex with him.  A Wilmerding, Penn. man, who was criminally charged in Sept. 2013, used MeetMe to meet and then sexually assault three teenagers.  In Grady County, Okla., a 25-year-old man used MeetMe to meet and rape a 15-year-old girl.  An Albuquerque TV news station, reporting on MeetMe's role in the case of a 21-year-old man who was arrested for soliciting sex with a 13-year-old girl, noted: "Investigators say it's the latest site predators are cruising to find new victims, and it's happening all too often."

The lawsuit, which was investigated and filed by Herrera's Consumer Protection Unit, is seeking a court order to enjoin MeetMe from continuing to engage in activities in California that violate state law; civil penalties of up to $2,500 for each violation found to have occurred in the state; and costs of the City Attorney's lawsuit.

About the S.F. City Attorney's Consumer Protection Unit
The San Francisco City Attorney's Office's Consumer Protection Unit pursues public interest civil cases under California's Unfair Competition Law, which are funded virtually exclusively by civil recoveries—not taxpayer dollars.  The award-winning program, for which the National Association of Consumer Advocates recognized Dennis Herrera as its 2009 Consumer Attorney of the Year, reflects voter-enacted changes to California law that require civil penalties recovered by public prosecutors to be used exclusively to enforce consumer protection laws.  Since voters passed the amendments as part of Proposition 64 in 2004, Herrera's Consumer Protection Unit has recovered some $20 million in successful battles against unlawful business practices that include price-fixing, illegal marketing, credit card collections arbitration scams and more.  The unit's work has helped win equally important industry reforms to help protect consumer privacy, end discriminatory practices in health insurance and media metrics, protect immigrants, halt predatory evictions, and obtain recoveries for victims of wage theft. 

The litigation is: People of the State of California ex rel. Dennis Herrera v. MeetMe, Inc. et al. (San Francisco Superior Court Case No. 537126, filed Feb. 3, 2014).  Complete documentation on the case is available at: http://www.sfcityattorney.org/.

SOURCE City Attorney of San Francisco

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busin...
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
"We host and fully manage cloud data services, whether we store, the data, move the data, or run analytics on the data," stated Kamal Shannak, Senior Development Manager, Cloud Data Services, IBM, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
With the proliferation of both SQL and NoSQL databases, organizations can now target specific fit-for-purpose database tools for their different application needs regarding scalability, ease of use, ACID support, etc. Platform as a Service offerings make this even easier now, enabling developers to roll out their own database infrastructure in minutes with minimal management overhead. However, this same amount of flexibility also comes with the challenges of picking the right tool, on the right ...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Am...
"This week we're really focusing on scalability, asset preservation and how do you back up to the cloud and in the cloud with object storage, which is really a new way of attacking dealing with your file, your blocked data, where you put it and how you access it," stated Jeff Greenwald, Senior Director of Market Development at HGST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Large scale deployments present unique planning challenges, system commissioning hurdles between IT and OT and demand careful system hand-off orchestration. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Smith, Senior Director and a founding member of Incenergy, will discuss some of the key tactics to ensure delivery success based on his experience of the last two years deploying Industrial IoT systems across four continents.
“We're a global managed hosting provider. Our core customer set is a U.S.-based customer that is looking to go global,” explained Adam Rogers, Managing Director at ANEXIA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device.
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effi...
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, explained how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
In today's uber-connected, consumer-centric, cloud-enabled, insights-driven, multi-device, global world, the focus of solutions has shifted from the product that is sold to the person who is buying the product or service. Enterprises have rebranded their business around the consumers of their products. The buyer is the person and the focus is not on the offering. The person is connected through multiple devices, wearables, at home, on the road, and in multiple locations, sometimes simultaneously...