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Both the policewoman and her target give the author their versions of the truth, in a case that challenges the conventional wisdom about online sexual predators, and blurs the lines among crime, “intent,” and enticement.

After months of prowling Internet chat rooms, posing as the mother of two young daughters, Detective Michele Deery thought she had a live one: “parafling,” a married, middle-aged man who claimed he wanted to have sex with her kids.

But was he just playing a twisted game of seduction?

Advertised as “Funny Anonymous School News For Confessions & Compliments” in the Apple Store, this anonymous app by Ambient is much like Yik Yak and Whisper. Learn more about After School in this Safe Smart Social video.

ASKfm is a social network where members interact by inviting others to ask anonymous questions.

Except the bots aren’t people; they’re brands like H&M or Whole Foods, and they’re there to serve up things like outfit recommendations and recipe ideas, depending on the keywords that you type. New interfaces, after all, tend to have an outsize effect on the tech industry.

They also, crucially, allow retailers, services, and a host of other companies to engage mobile users, like Emma, on the platforms where they’re already spending so much time—especially since users’ appetites for new apps has dwindled. It was Apple’s unveiling of the graphical user interface and the mouse that set IBM on its long retreat from PC dominance.

Parents are being reminded to pre-vet every app their young children download amid renewed concerns that virtual reality gaming is exposing minors to sexual advances.

The US-developed game Roblox received global attention this month after a British father decided to check out what his sons were playing on their mobile device.

Computer programs that talk with (and like) humans, chatbots appear as voice-controlled assistants (such as Siri or Cortana) and pop up online as customer service “representatives” for major retailers.

If you’re in Messenger or a number of other messaging platforms, you can connect with bots much as you would with other users. The potential for bots to serve as app replacements has inspired companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, and others to bet on messaging as an altogether new way of interacting with the web.

But Ms Mc Lean said concerns about Roblox highlighted a broader issue."Any app or platform or game that allows two-way interaction between your child and another player is going to have predators on it," she said."And then the risk ramps up when you can have chat.