Seduction of the webcam, I mean, the innocent

“By 2000, things had worked out exactly the way the pedophiles hoped. Webcams were the rage among computer-savvy minors, creating a bountiful selection of potential targets.

“Among them was Justin Berry. That year, he was a gangly 13-year-old with saucer eyes and brown hair that he often dyed blond. He lived with his mother, stepfather and younger sister in Bakersfield, Calif., a midsize city about 90 miles north of Los Angeles. Already he was so adept at the computer that he had registered his own small Web site development business, which he ran from the desk where he did his schoolwork.

“So Justin was fascinated when a friend showed off the free Webcam he had received for joining Earthlink, an Internet service provider. The device was simple and elegant. As Justin remembers it, he quickly signed up, too, eager for his own Webcam.

“‘I didn’t really have a lot of friends,’ he recalled, ;and I thought having a Webcam might help me make some new ones online, maybe even meet some girls my age.’

“As soon as Justin hooked the camera to his bedroom computer and loaded the software, his picture was automatically posted on spotlife.com, an Internet directory of Webcam users, along with his contact information. Then he waited to hear from other teenagers.

“No one Justin’s age ever contacted him from that listing. But within minutes he heard from his first online predator. That man was soon followed by another, then another.
Through His Webcam, a Boy Joins a Sordid Online World, by Kurt Eichenwald, NY Times, December 19, 2005 (via cursor.org)

How lurid. This thing reads like pulp fiction. Here’s a follow-up. Seems the author has had some serious problems since its publication.

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