KUALA LUMPUR: The WeChat instant messaging service was used by paedophiles to make contact with their victims in 138 out of 184 cases reported last year, says a senior federal police officer.
Facebook was used in 35 cases, WhatsApp (six) and the rest through BeeTalk, said Asst Commissioner Ong Chin Lan, of the CID’s sex crimes division at federal headquarters in Bukit Aman yesterday.
She said it was easy for underaged children to find contacts through WeChat without censorship, as WeChat does not require someone else to invite them to join.
Ong, principal assistant director of the unit, D11, said children using WeChat and other services without adult supervision would be easily exploited in a negative way by paedophiles.
Ong said when children at their infancy stage of using social media, they would be exposed to strangers like paedophiles, who would later ‘charm’ the children with sweet talk in order to get their trust.
WeChat, developed in China, provides instant text and voice messaging through smartphones and also through web browsers. It was reported to have 700 million users, of whom 70 million are outside China.
Several countries have raised concerns about the service, and India was reported to have debated a ban on WeChat for collecting too much personal information and data from its users.
Ong said that “through WeChat, the paedophiles can search for people nearby, filter the gender and later send messages to as many children as (they) want,” she said.
“Subsequently, after getting to know each other, the victim would usually be taken for outings before they were raped.
She said the paedophiles preyed on children between 12 and 15 years old “because at this age, they (the victims) had just gained their freedom from their parents”.
She said parents or guardians should monitor the behaviour of their children when using the Internet so that they will not easily get acquainted with strangers on social media.
“They (underaged children) should be given attention and religion education to prevent them from becoming a prey to the paedophiles,” she added.