File this under “Cybertraps for Celebrities” [forthcoming]. During a debate over electoral reform in Brazil, Member of Parliament Joao Rodrigues was caught on video looking at a porn clip on his cell phone. While he did hide the cell phone under his desk, he didn’t seem particularly embarrassed by the video and even showed some of his colleagues what was playing.
Stupid politician tricks are nothing new, but it does offer an important teachable moment, particularly for parents. The Daily Mail reported that Rodrigues posted an explanation to his Facebook page, in which he said that he had received a link to the video from a group chat on WhatsApp and was “erasing the rubbish” (after taking a close look, of course, to determine just how rubbishy it was).
“I participate in nearly 100 groups on WhatsApp,” Rodrigues said, “and during the day I search and separate the wheat from the chaff.”
According to the WhatsApp FAQ, “The Group Chat feature lets you chat with up to 100 people at once. It is a great way to stay in touch with your family, friends and colleagues.” The original intention of the WhatsApp group function was to provide an easy-to-use communication tool for a defined group of people who all use WhatsApp. For instance, I could set one up called “Siblings” and add my brother and two sisters (although to be fair, we achieve the same thing using the iPhone’s group text capability). I also could set up a larger one called “Family” that includes all of my relatives, and so on.
As I discussed in Obscene Profits, virtually any technological innovation can be or has been coopted by the adult industry, and the WhatsApp Group Chat feature is no different. A quick search on Google for “WhatsApp groups adult” [NSFW, obviously] turns up a large number of group names that you can try to join. The process is a little bit hit-or-miss, since the 100-member limit means that adult group chats tend to fill up very quickly. But it’s all too easy nonetheless to join groups that will provide an endless stream of pornographic material in the WhatsApp app.
Given the fact that WhatsApp now has around 800 million users, the odds are good that your child is using the messaging app. Do you know to what groups he or she belongs? Yet another thing for parents to keep an eye on.