Diss High School warns parents over messaging app after fears of online predators

Diss, Norfolk. Diss High School Entrance and Sign ENGANL00120141202154218
Diss, Norfolk. Diss High School Entrance and Sign ENGANL00120141202154218

Diss High School has issued a warning to parents over fears sexual predators are targeting a messaging app used by some of its pupils.

A letter, shared nearly 1,000 times on Facebook, from the school’s safeguarding team has raised concerns about online forum ooVoo.

It said that, following advice from Norfolk Police, parents should ensure their children close down their ooVoo accounts for their protection.

An ooVoo spokesperson said sexual predators using internet apps was “an issue for the social network industry as a whole.”

The letter read: “Following some recent reports, we have taken advice from Norfolk Police and we are writing to advise you about an online forum called ooVoo.

“This appears to be used by a number of Year 7 students and we would like to draw your attention to some of the characteristics of this forum, which enables instant messaging and group video chats for groups of up to 12 people.

“Whilst the use of this forum may be entirely innocent, we are aware that ooVoo is completely unfiltered and anyone who has an account can make contact with your child without his/her agreement, by sending an unidentified video call.

“Norfolk Police have advised us that there are known ‘sexual predators’ using this site and that they, along with many other police forces across the country, are monitoring the site closely.

“It is therefore our advice to you that if your child has an ooVoo account that this account is closed down for your son/daughter’s protection.

“Please also make sure that security is high for any other social media sites which your child uses and that you are monitoring his/her accounts.

“We will continue to cover internet safety at school but would appreciate your support in keeping our community safe.”

A spokesperson for ooVoo said: “This is an issue for the social network industry as a whole and we all must strive to provide users a safe and private experience.

“ooVoo is a closed network and we explicitly recommend that our users only accept friend requests from friends, family and people they know and trust – as they would away from the internet.

“We take security and privacy issues very seriously and have a Chief Privacy Officer who roots out and deletes any suspicious accounts, or accounts against which suspicious behaviors have been reported. In such cases where reported behaviors are offensive, illegal and then identified as such, those uses are immediately reported to the proper authorities.

“At ooVoo there is a strict, explicitly stated policy that any user must be ages 13 and older. ooVoo has a dedicated network operations and security team and we spend significant resources maintaining and enhancing the security of our network from outside threats in order to provide our users with the safest possible experience.”

The Diss Express has contacted Diss High School and Norfolk Police for comment.