‘Wren Eleanor’ TikTok movement inspires mothers on social media to remove pictures of children: ‘Sick people’

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A 3-year-old girl unknowingly sparked a mass movement on social media for mothers to remove public photos and videos of their children online after online investigators noticed a disturbing trend.

Makayla Musick is one of many mothers who have recently informed their followers that they have finished sharing public content for their children online.

“I just saw the posts on Tiktok and was absolutely horrified by the story and decided I needed to protect my daughter,” she told Fox News Digital.

The 3-year-old TikTok star at the center of the action, username @wren.eleanor, has over 17 million followers on the short video app run by her mom, Jacqueline. The account consists of innocent-looking photos and videos of Ren – a blond, rosy-cheeked toddler doing toddler activities – as well as some sponsored content.

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But Wren’s mother started deleting some content once her followers and other TikTok investigators noticed that some videos had been saved by other users with worrying numbers. The Save feature allows users to tag videos, so they are easy to find and reference.

One user, @hashtagfacts, notes that a video of Ren in an orange shorts has been saved more than 45,000 times. A video of Wren eating a hot dog has been saved nearly 375,000 times. It also highlighted disturbing comments on Wren’s videos and noted that popular searches for Wren’s account included phrases such as “Wren Eleanor hotdog” or “Wren Eleanor pickle”, meaning users were frequently searching for videos of a three-year-old. Years eating a sausage or a pickle. Similar popular searches for Wren appeared on Google.

Not only can videos and photos be saved to TikTok and other social media accounts, but harassers can also use the smartphone screen recording feature to record or capture content directly on their phone without being tracked.

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Since users noticed abnormal activity on Wren’s account, some mothers, like Musick, have taken it upon themselves to delete their children’s photos from public social media profiles.

Musick said that while she doesn’t have anything close to Wren Eleanor’s account, her job as a mother is to protect her daughter from any potential online scammers.

A 3-year-old girl unknowingly sparked a movement led by mothers who vowed to delete their children's content on social media.

A 3-year-old girl unknowingly sparked a movement led by mothers who vowed to delete their children’s content on social media.
(Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“Rain’s story has shed a lot of light on all the patients in the world,” the mother explained in an interview with Fox News Digital. “So, I have decided to remove my daughter’s photos from anyone who is not close to family/close friends. My duty as her mother is to protect her from things like this. I took the initiative to remove her photos before anything like Wren’s situation happened to my daughter.”

Musick was both surprised and unsurprised by the concern about Wren’s account because “I’ve always known there are sick people in the world who do such things.” She looks at social media from a different perspective now and “will not be posting ‘her daughter’s content on social media’ until she is older.”

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Callahan Walsh, executive director of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and son of “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh, told Fox News Digital that while social media has become a “pervasive part of our lives,” social media platforms such as TikTok and Facebook are using social media platforms such as TikTok and Facebook. Instagram and others “are drawn to this false sense of security” because of the positive interactions they have with friends, family, and strangers who follow their accounts with good intentions.

“But parents need to understand that when you release this information to the public, you open up your world to the whole outside world,” Walsh said. “And anyone on those social media platforms – especially if it’s your Page, if your Page is public – anyone in the entire world can view and consume the content you post there and…”

Online predators can save children’s public content on social media, take a screenshot or record it on the screen without any consequences.

Online predators can save children’s public content on social media, take a screenshot or record it on the screen without any consequences.
((AP Photo/Jenny Kane, file))

Often anonymous and difficult to track, Walsh explained, online predators are looking for content that regular users may not realize is malicious because they “don’t go straight to that dark place.”

“That’s what these predators are looking for,” he said. “And because you’re posting that content on social media, and you’re the one sharing it, it’s not like they’re the ones who create… this kind of content. They just consume it.”

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Once scammers get away with consuming material online, it is not out of the question that they will start targeting children directly online or in person, according to the NCMEC executive director.

One of the first rules NCMEC teaches kids who are just getting started with the Internet through its NetSmartz software is to never share too much personal information. Personal information can include everything from a child’s location to seemingly innocent photos and videos of a child used by online predators from around the world – who are not necessarily subject to US laws – for nefarious purposes.

The first thing NCMEC teaches kids new to the internet and social media is to refrain from sharing too much information about themselves.

The first thing NCMEC teaches kids new to the internet and social media is to refrain from sharing too much information about themselves.
(Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

Predators who find accounts belonging to minors can force these minors to share their photos and videos and then prepare them to start capturing and sharing more proactive content over time – often by pretending to be other minors.

“Everything is done over the phone,” Walsh explained. “And those phones go with our kids in the bedroom at night and in the bathroom.” “It’s not the family computer in the living room. So whether it’s content that parents put in or where parents just allow their kids to create any kind of content themselves, that’s very dangerous because we’re seeing child prey individuals who will try to coerce that child into creating sexually explicit content, and content of his own production, and sent to that exploiter.”

This, he said, “opens the child to more types of exploitation, grooming, being offline, sexual blackmail, online solicitation – all of those things.” And once the grooming process begins, so do the threats. What might start as a predator asking a child one picture can turn into a predator asking the child multiple inappropriate pictures or videos using threats. Then they collect this content and share it “like playing cards”.

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“It might start with taking off a shirt, you know, with a piece of clothing,” Walsh warned. “But once this predator has this kid and says, ‘Hey, look, I saved this picture, and I’m going to share it with all your friends, all of your family. I will destroy you, embarrass you in school. Your parents will hate you. Nobody’s going to be your friend anymore unless you send me… this picture of you doing X, Y, Z,” condensed to what was the original content. And these kids are now locked into a situation where fear prevails. They’re afraid of being exposed. They’re in fear Of embarrassment. And so they will comply with the requests of this person who is blackmailing them and providing them with additional content.”

Parents should be aware of what scammers are looking for in public profiles and avoid posting the types of content that bad actors consume, without consequences, on social media. According to Walsh, they also need to teach their children the dangers of sharing too much personal information with strangers online.

He concluded, “Think twice. Trust your intuition. Understand that there are bad people out there. Try to keep your children safe.”

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