"Friend Verifier" app protects teens from online predators - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

"Friend Verifier" app protects teens from online predators

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Thanks to the new "Friend Verifier" app on facebook you can scan your current friends and any friend requests against the National Sex Offender Registry.

Since March 2012, "Friend Verifier" has scanned over a half a million Facebook friends and counting, but the app isn't perfect. If your new Facebook friend has a common name, the app could pop up with at least eight matches, which you can check using the offender's search engine at the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division where you can see mug shots, names, addresses and physical descriptions of registered offenders.

The multiple match glitch is something the developer says will be fixed in the next update, and a new version of this app will be available in September. The developer tells WMBF that they are addressing some of the glitches by adding a color coated flag system. For example, yellow would appear if a person's name on Facebook matches that of a registered sex offender. If you see red, that means the name, state and date of birth are all a match.

Facebook's policies, clearly state that convicted sex offenders are not allowed to register for an account, but that's really based on a good faith system. Facebook tells us they do have an "automated system in place that searches for suspicious activity and they check user names against the sex offender database on a regular basis."

There are other options. You can report a sex offender directly to Facebook or each state's law enforcement agency (SLED in South Carolina) which allows you to search your address, so you can see where registered sex offenders live in proximity to your home. SLED's website also offers an email alert system so you can know immediately when a registered offender moves into to your neighborhood.

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