Warning: Details in this story may be disturbing for some users
A suburban Chicago dad has issued a now-viral warning to parents after he made a disturbing discovery on a popular app being used by his 7-year-old daughter.
Brad Summer, of Batavia, said he and his wife allowed their daughter to use the app Musical.ly on their phones while under supervision by an adult.
“She used this app to connect with her cousins and make goofy duets of songs together,” he wrote on Facebook.
But what he said was a fun, family-friendly game, quickly made him “furious.”
Summer said someone pretending to be 9 years old had messaged his daughter via the app and his daughter alerted him to the disturbing exchange.
“First I want to say how proud of our daughter I am and want this to be a warning to your families,” he wrote.
In screenshots posted by Summer, the messages show someone identified only as “Jessy” asking the young girl how old she is. The person then asks the girl to send a photo of herself.
When the girl sends a selfie, the person says “looking nice” and “send me your pics without t-shirt.”
“I like to see your body without t-shirt,” one message read.
The girl tells the person she can’t, but they continue to press for photos, saying “don’t tell to anyone” and “it’s secret between us only.”
Then, the young girl’s father chimes in.
“I am her father and I am a police officer,” the message reads. “We have documented your ip address and location. I recommend that you refrain from any other contact.”
Summer said he called police and handed the phone over so they could pull information in hopes of tracking the person down.
He said he knows some might criticize his parenting but said “we never thought like predators and I guess we were naïve in thinking our daughter safe on what we thought to be a kid friendly app.”
“We live and learn and I continue to do so everyday as a parent,” he wrote. “This post is meant as a warning call to others that let their children use this app. This post wasn't meant for people telling me how to raise my child. My child came and told me and it didn't get any further luckily. She followed what I taught her. I'm sure that others families aren't so lucky. The world we live in needs focus on these types of things, say what you will.”
Summer’s post has been shared more than 80,000 times and liked more than 18,000 times.
Musical.ly did not respond to NBC Chicago’s request for comment, but the app’s rules prohibit anyone under the age of 13 from using it.
The app’s website also provides resources for parents on internet safety and cyberbullying and details how to change message settings so only approved followers can message an account.
“If you’d like to make sure that only approved followers can send messages via direct.ly, we recommend enabling the ‘only friends can direct.ly me’ on the settings page,” the website reads. “With these private settings enabled, only approved followers can view your teen’s videos and send them messages.”
Summer said since his posting, he’s received support from parents across the world.
“This story has spread through almost every continent and the replies have been overwhelmingly touching,” he wrote. “From those who comment, to those of you who send me a PM, I read each and every one. I have been given advice, other sites to look out for and most appreciated, the encouragement to keep fighting.”