12 On Your Side: 'Perv' smartphone apps ... do they work?

By: Elizabeth Owens Email
By: Elizabeth Owens Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, June 20, 2012

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. -- "Perv apps" are hitting the market as more parents worry about online predators.

There are more than 800,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, and it's no secret that many of them will use the Internet to find their next victim.

"Facebook is like anywhere else, whether kids are going to a coffee house or out in public, there's a chance for sex offenders to get their information or actually meet them," said Patrick King, social media expert at USC Aiken.

Now app manufacturers are trying to cash in on parents' growing concerns.

Apps like "Friend Verifier" will scan through your friends list and cross reference names with those listed on sex offender registries.

12 On Your Side downloaded "Friend Verifier" and scanned through our friends on Facebook. Shockingly, many popped up under a red warning. Maybe more surprising were the names that fell under the warning status.

King was flagged under the app.

"Of course what it's doing is picking up Patrick Harold King, that's not me, he's from Michigan," he said.

King says the problems with many of the "perv apps" are that they only check sex offender databases using first and last name, which means people with a common name are more likely to come up as a hit.

There is a chance an app like "Friend Verifier" may have a true hit once in awhile, but King recommends checking out Facebook or Twitter friends the good old-fashioned way.

"They can go to their local state or federal sex offender registry and search for that one individual," he said.

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