Instagram, the most popular social network for those under eighteen, is also the platform that online predators increasingly use to target vulnerable youth. Teens knowingly set their profile to public and add questionable hashtags to their photos to gain as many likes and followers as possible—even from strangers. The publicity of the photos being shared, the popular use and searchability of hashtags, and the frequency of location-tagged photos among teens provide predators with ample ground to search for and interact with youth. In response, the charity Children of the Street Society turned to Canadian ad agency Cossette to deter online predators. An innovative tactic was born. Cossette seeded photos of teens onto Instagram by using the very hashtags that predators search for, such as #preteen (66,973), #underage (64,444), #jailbait (37,889) and #youngteen (15,950). When predators searched for these hashtags, Cossette’s photos would appear in the search results. Those who tried to connect with these fake teen profiles would encounter a jail cell mosaic, made from Instagram’s photo grid, along with a deterrent message: “If you’re searching for underage teens, then we’re searching for you. Undercover officers are online.” These photos were reposted throughout the course of the campaign to keep them topical in the search results, ensuring that online predators were intercepted at the exact moment they felt safe to target teens on Instagram.
FCB Chicago’s print campaign “Imagination On Wheels” reminds parents how far their kids can travel with a Radio Flyer wagon.